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LUDOVICO     1)1     VA11THEMA 








a.d.  1503  to  1508. 


WITn    A    PREFACE, 


JOHN   WINTER   JONES,   Esq.,    F.S.A., 
&n&   CftttcK, 



ETC.,    ETC.,    ETC. 

WITH    A    MAP. 







LONDON  :   T.    RICHARDS.   37,   GREAT    QUEEN    STREET. 


SIR     CHARLES     WOOD,     Bart.,     G.C.B., 


OF     THE     EASTERN     TRAVELS      OF 








SIR  RODERICK  IMPEY  MURCHISON,  G.C.St.S.,  F.R.S.,  D.C.L.,    Coir.  Mem.   Inst.   F 
Hon.  Mem.  Imp.  Acad.  Sc.  St.  Petersburg,  etc.,  etc.,  President. 

Rear-admiral  C.  R.  DRINKWATER  BETHUNE,  C.B. ) 

\  Vice-Presidents. 
The  Rt.  Hon.  Sir  DAVID  DUNDAS,  M.P.  ) 

J.  BARROW,  Esq.,  F.R.S. 


Captain  CRACROFT,  R.N. 

Sir  HENRY  ELLIS,  K.H.,  F.R.S. 


R.  W.  GREY,  Esq,  M.P. 

T.  HODGKIN,  Esq.,  M.D. 


His  Excellency  the  COUNT  DE  LAVRADIO. 

R.  H.  MAJOR,  Esq.,  F.S.A. 



Major-General  Sir  HENRY  C.  RAWLINSON,  K.C.B. 


CLEMENTS  R.  MARK  HAM,  Esq.,  Honorary  Secrexak\. 


Map  of  Vartbema's  route        ......         to  face  title-p:ige. 

Section  from  Gastaldi's  Map  .....  „       page  cxx. 



This  translation  made  from  the  first  Italian  edition  of  1510 ;  truthful- 
ness of  Varthema's    narrative,    and    simjjlicity    of    his    style ;    later 

-  editions  more  or  less  faulty ;  the  present  version  intended  to  be  a 
faithful  representative  of  the  original  text ;  Varthema's  work  imme- 
diately attracted  attention,  i-iii.  Different  editions  and  translations 
enumerated  :  Italian ;  Latin ;  German ;  Spanish ;  French  ;  Dutch  ; 
English,  iii-xvi. 


Deficiency  of  all  the  aiithorities  as  to  Varthema's  antecedents,  xvii ;  not 
supplied  by  allusions  in  his  dedication,  xix ;  notice  of  the  Lady  Agnesina, 
Duchess  of  Albi  and  Tagliacozzo,  to  whom  he  dedicates,  xix  ;  Eamusio's 
preface  has  no  information,  and  his  edition  a  third-hand  version,  xxi ; 
particulars  derivable  with  more  or  less  certainty  from  the  narrative 
itself,  xxii  ;  his  motives  for  travelling,  xxiii ;  character  of  his  narrative, 
xxiii ;  scanty  recompense,  xxiv. 

Date  of  his  leaving  Europe,  xxv ;  remarks  on  his  notices  of  Cairo  and 
-Egypt  under  the  Mamluks,  ib. ;  Syria  and  Damascus,  xxvi ;  his  enrol- 
ment as  a  Mamliik,  and  reserve  as  to  his  profession  of  Islam,  his  Mus- 
sulman name  (Tunas  or  Jonah),  and  his  knowledge  of  Muhammedanism, 
xxvi ;  remarks  on  such  conformity  to  Islamism,  xxvii ;  he  joins  the  Hajj 
Caravan  from  Damascus,  ib. ;  the  only  European  who  has  reached  Meccah 
by  that  route,  xxvii  ;  his  sketches  of  the  desert  and  Bedawin,  xxviii ;  his 
notice  of  a  colony  of  Jews  near  El-Medinah,  and  the  fact  authenticated, 
ib. ;  his  description  of  El-Medinah  and  correction  of  fables  about  Mukam- 
med's  coffin,  xxix ;  his  journey  on  to  Meccah,  xxx ;  his  notice  of  the 
politics  of  the  time  confirmed  by  Arabic  authorities,  the  Kurrat  El- 
Ay  Cm  and  Riuih  er-Ruah,  xxx-xxxv;  his  account  of  Meccah,  its  visitors, 
holy  places,  and  ceremonies,  xxxv  ;  wonderful  truth  of  his  descriptions, 
as  confirmed  incidentally  by  Burckhardt  and  expressly  by  Burton,  xxxvi. 

Varthema  escapes  to  Juddah  from  the  Caravan,  xxxvi-vii ;  his  voyage  down 
the  Red  Sea  and  arrival  at  Aden,  xxxviii ;  suspected  as  a  Christian  spy 
and  imprisoned,  and  sent  to  the  Sultan  of  southern  Yemen  at  Radaa, 
xxxix ;  corroboration  of  a  part  of  Varthema's  story  here  from  the  nar- 
ratives of  Portuguese  acts  of  piracy  at  this  time,  xxxix — xli ;  outline 
of  the  contemporary  politics  of  Yemen  from  Arabic  authorities,  xli — xliv, 
and  incidental  corroboration  of  Varthema's  narrative,  xliv;  intervention 
of  one  of  the  Sultan's  wives  in  Varthema's  favour,  and  his  pretended 
madness,  xlv ;  morality  of  the  harini,  ib.  j  Varthema  obtains  leave  to 
visit  Aden,  where  he  engages  a  passage  to  India,  and  spends  the  interval 
before  its  departure  on  an  excursion  through  Yemen,  xlvi  ;  he  is  the  first 
European  traveller  who  has  described  that  country,  and  scarcely  any  but 



Niebuhr  have  followed,  xlvi ;  abstract  of  his  route,  xlvii ;  returns  to  Aden, 
embarks,  runs  for  Africa  and  visits  Zaila  and  Berbera;  truth  of  his  de- 
scriptions, xlviii ;  circumstantial  evidence  of  the  season  at  which  this 
voyage  was  made,  xlix ;  Varthema  crosses  the  Indian  ocean  to  Diu  in 
Guzerat ;  thence  to  Gogo ;  and  thence  westward  to  Julfar  in  the  Per- 
sian Gulf,  Maskat,  and  Hormuz,  1 ;  notices  of  Homiuz  and  its  his- 
tory, 1,  li. 

Varthema's  visit  to  Eri  or  Herat,  lii  ;  difficulty  about  his  "  large  and  fine 
river ;"  Shiraz,  liii ;  his  meeting  with  a  Persian  merchant  "  Cozazionor," 
who  becomes  his  travelling  companion ;  advantages  of  this  to  Varthema, 
liv  ;  they  start  for  Samarcand,  but  are  turned  back  by  the  Sufi's  perse- 
cution of  the  Shi'iis;  confirmation  of  this  from  history,  lv,lvi;  Cozazionor 
proposes  to  give  Varthema  his  niece  in  marriage,  lvii ;  they  reach  Honnnz 
and  embark  for  India,  arriving  at  Cheo  or  Jooah  on  the  Indus ;  they 
reach  Cambay,  lviii  ;  truth  of  particulars  regarding  it. 

Political  state  of  "Western  India  at  this  period,  lviii ;  accession  to  the 
throne  of  Guzerat  of  Mahmud  Shah,  surnamed  Bigarrah,  who  reigned 
during  Varthema's  visit,  lix ;  Mussulman  kingdom  of  the  Deccan,  its 
vicissitudes  and  subdivision  ;  'Adil  Shah  of  Bijapur,  Varthema's  "  King 
of  Deccan,"  lx  ;  the  Brahminical  kingdom  of  Bijayanagar  ;  Ranrraj  of 
that  state,  Varthema's  "  King  of  Narsinga,"  lxi  ;  Rajah  of  Cannanore; 
kingdom  of  the  Zaniuri  Rajah  or  Zamorin,  lxii ;  history  of  his  pre- 
eminence as  given  by  the  Portuguese ;  Quilon,  lxiii ;  Chayl ;  kingdom 
of  Bengal  under  the  Purbi  sultans. 

Varthema's  account  of  the  Jains  and  the  Joghis,  lxiv ;  his  description  of 
Sultan  Mahmud's  mustachioes  confirmed  by  the  Mussulman  historians. 
Varthema's  journey  along  the  coast,  inland  to  Bijapur  and  back  to  the 
coast,  and  so  to  Cannanore,  lxv ;  his  abstinence  from  communication 
with  the  Portuguese  already  established  there;  visit  to  Bijayanagar, 
and  remarks  on  his  notices  of  the  coinage ;  return  to  the  coast  and 
journey  along  it  to  Calicut,  lxvi ;  fullness,  truth,  and  originality  of  his 
descriptions  of  manners  and  peculiarities  here,  of  the  distinctions  of 
castes  and  singular  marriage  customs,  lxvii  ;  remarks  upon  these. 

Varthema  and  his  companion  quit  Calicut  by  the  Backwaters,  for  Kayan- 
Kulam  and  Colon  or  Quilon,  lxix ;  thence  to  Chayl ;  position  of  the 
latter ;  city  of  Cioromandel,  lxx,  probably  Negapatani ;  their  visit  to 
Ceylon ;  they  proceed  to  Paleachet  or  Pulicat,  lxxi ;  remarks  suggested 
by  the  narrative  as  to  the  freedom  of  trade,  and  protection  of  foreign 
traders  in  India  in  those  days,  lxxi ;  many  subordinate  ports  then  fre- 
quented even  by  foreign  vessels  are  now  abandoned  and  have  disap- 
peared from  the  maps,  lxxii ;  causes  of  the  greater  commercial  centraliza- 
tion of  the  present  day,  and  doubts  whether  the  improvement  of  access 
to  the  old  intermediate  ports  would  not  have  been  attended  by  better 
results ;  general  prosperity  which  seems  to  have  prevailed,  and  for  which 
a  much  less  equal  distribution  of  property  has  now  been  substituted ; 
impartial  administration  of  justice  in  old  India;  the  comparative  costli- 
ness and  tardiness  of  our  system  ;  humorous  story  in  illustration  related 
by  an  Arab  merchant,  lxxiv. 

Sketch  of  the  political  geography  of  the  Transgangetic  Peninsula,  lxxvi ; 
Pegu,  Siam,  Ava,  and  Toungoo ;  the  various  kingdoms  of  Sumatra ; 
"  Moors"  and  "Pagans;"  Java,  lxxvii;  sovereigns  of  the  farther  islands 
visited  by  Varthema. 

The  travellers  sail  from  Pulicat  to  Tarnassari  or  Tenasserim,  lxxviii ; 
truthful  features  of  the  description  ;  Varthema's  notice  of  the  Hornbill, 
lxxix  ;  of  extraordinary  marriage  usages ;  voyage  to  the  "  city  of  Ban- 
ghella,"  lxxx  ;  discussion  as  to  the  whereabouts  of  the  city  so  indicated, 
with  various  quotations  ;  wealth  and  abundance  of  products,  lxxxii ; 
meeting  with  Christians  from  the  city  of  Sarnau,  and  probable  identifi- 
i  at  ion  of  that  place,  from  passage  in  Odorico ;  remarks  on  the  interest- 
ing character  of  Fra  Odorico's  narrative,  lxxxiii ;  these  Christians  advised 


Varthema's  companion  to  visit  Pegu  with  them,  lxxxiv ;  description  of 
Pegu,  Lxxxv;  Varthema's  statement  about  the  existence  of  Christians 
there,  Lxxxv ;  interview  with  the  King  of  Pegu,  lxxxvi. 

Departure  for  Malacca,  lxxxvii;  "Great  Biver,"  viz.  Straits  of  Malacca, 
lxxxvii  ;  character  of  the  place  and  people,  and  corroboration  of  Var- 
thema's narrative ;  Sumatra,  Ixxxviii  ;  questions  raised  by  the  text 
regarding  coins  and  silk  in  that  island ;  voyage  to  the  Spice  Islands 
undertaken,  xc ;  this  part  of  the  route  never  previously  recorded  by  any 
European,  but  it  would  be  rash  to  say  never  travelled,  xci ;  the  Nutmeg 
or  Banda  Islands ;  Monoch  or  the  Moluccas ;  which  of  the  latter  did 
Varthenia  visit  ?  xcii ;  visit  to  Borneo,  the  part  not  determined,  xciii  ; 
curious  particidars  as  to  appliances  for  navigation,  xciv ;  the  Southern 
Cross,  xcv;  and  stories  heard  of  apparently  antarctic  regions,xcv;  curiosity 
of  the  Sarnau  Christians  about  Western  Christendom ;  this  may  have 
awakened  Varthema's  desires  for  home  and  the  abandonment  of  his 
false  profession,  xcvi ;  arrival  at  Java ;  a  plea  for  the  account  of  it 
given  by  Varthema  against  Mr.  Crawfurd's  condemnation ;  mutilated 
children,  xcvii. 

Return  to  Malacca  and  thence  to  Negapatam,  and  Calicut,  xcviii ;  the 
two  Milanese  gun-founders ;  Varthema's  appearance  as  a  physician,  and 
as  Imam ;  his  journey  to  Cannanore  and  escape  into  the  Portuguese 
garrison,  xcix. 

Varthema  present  at  the  sea  fight  off  Cannanore,  c ;  employed  as  factor 
at  Cochin  ;  in  the  attack  on  Ponani ;  his  knighthood ;  remarks  on  the 
fanaticism  and  violence  of  the  Portuguese. 

Varthema  finally  quits  India,  ci;  remarks  on  the  rapid  growth  of  the 
Portuguese  power  in  the  East,  and  its  rapid  decay,  cii ;  their  religious 
conquests  have  survived  their  temporal  sovereignty,  ciii ;  success  of 
Boman  Catholic  mission  in  India  greater  than  that  of  the  Beformed 
churches,  civ ;  remarks  of  Heber  quoted. 

Mozambique,  cvi ;  summary  of  history  of  the  Muhammedan  settlements 
on  the  coast  of  Eastern  Africa  from  Krapf,  cvii ;  the  Portuguese  ride 
and  its  fall,  cviii ;  inscription  over  the  gateway  of  Monibasa ;  rise  of  the 
'Amman  Seyyeds  of  Maskat  and  Zanzibar,  ex ;  Varthema's  inland  excur- 
sion at  Mozambique,  and  the  illustration  it  affords  of  the  dealings  of  the 
civilized  with  the  uncivilized,  cxi. 

Varthema's  arrival  in  Europe,  and  conclusion  of  his  narrative,  cxii. 

The  Editor's  acknowledgments  to  various  gentlemen,  cxiii. 

Postscript.  On  the  site  of  the  ancient  city  of  Bengala. 

Further  evidence  as  to  the  existence  of  Bengala  as  a  city  and  port  distinct 
from  Satgong  and  Chittagong,  cxiv ;  some  authors,  however,  mention  the 
two  latter  and  not  Bengala,  cxvii ;  abstract  of  the  data  as  to  these  three 
cities  afforded  by  the  principal  old  maps  in  the  British  Museum,  cxix  ; 
Bengala  appears  for  the  last  time  in  1740 ;  the  site  of  Bengala,  and  its 
probable  destruction  by  the  river  as  supposed  by  Eennell,  cxx. 

Advantages  of  Travel,  from  the  Arabic. 


(The  headings  in  the  larger  type  are  those  of  the  original  text.) 

Privilege  of  printing  granted  to  Varthema  by  Raphael  Bishop  of  Portueri 
and  Cardinal  of  St.  George,  the  Pope's  Chamberlain. 

Dedication  to  Countess  of  Albi  and  Duchess  of  Tagliacozzo,  1-4. 

First  Chapter  concerning  Alexandria,  5. 

a  2 


Chapter  concerning  Cairo,  5,  6. 

Size  of  the  city,  5 ;  Sultan,  Mamelukes,  and  Moors,  6. 

Chapter  concerning  Baruti,  Tripoli,  and  Aleppo,  6,  7. 

Sails  to  Baruti  (Beyroot),  6;  St.  George  and  the  Dragon,  7;  goes  to 
Tripoli,  ih. ;  to  Aleppo,  ib. 

Chapter  concerning  Aman  and  Menin,  8. 

First  Chapter  concerning  Damascus,  8-11. 

Beauty  of  Damascus,  8 ;  Varthema  learns  Moorish  (Arabic) ;  Castle 
of  Damascus ;  story  of  its  builder,  a  Florentine,  9 ;  government  of 
Damascus  under  the  Sultan  of  Cairo,  and  oppressive  exactions,  10 ; 
watchmen,  11. 

Second  Chapter  concerning  said  Damascus,  11,  12. 

Riches;  fruits  and  flowers;  water  and  fountains,  11;  Mosque  of  St. 
Zachariah;  legendary  sites  of  St.  Pavd's  history  and  others,  12. 

Third  Chapter  concerning  [the  Mamelukes  in]  Damascus,  13-15. 
Mamelukes,  their  training,  pay,  and  customs,  13;  rudeness  to  ladies; 
dress  of  ladies  ;  divorces ;  cheese,  milk,  and  goats,  14 ;  truffles ;  dress 
of  Moors ;  Mameluke  oppression ;  Christian  merchants,  15. 


Chapter  showing   the  route   from   Damascus    to   Mecca,   wherein 
some  Arabs  are  concerned,  16-19. 

Varthema  joins  the  caravan  to  Mecca  in  the  character  of  a  Mame- 
luke ;  travels  to  Mezeribe,  16 ;  Zambei  a  great  Arab  lord ;  his  plun- 
dering excursions ;  Arabs  described,  17 ;  numbers  in  the  caravan, 
and  its  marshalling ;  length  of  the  journey  to  Mecca;  food  of  camels  ; 
halts  to  water,  18 ;  fights  with  the  Arabs  at  watering  places  ;  excel- 
lence and  skill  of  the  Mamelukes  as  soldiers,  archers,  and  horsemen,  19. 

Chapter  concerning  the  city  of  Sodom  and  Gomorrah,  19-21. 

Valley  of  Sodom  ;  barren  and  blood-red  soil,  19  ;  deaths  from  thirst 
in  the  caravan ;  mountain  with  a  well,  and  fight  with  24,000  Arabs ; 
camel  intrenchment,  20;  black-mail  paid;  fight  renewed  and  many 
Arabs  killed,  21. , 

Chapter  concerning  a  mountain  inhabited  by  Jews,  22-25. 

Mountain  in  which  dwelt  Jews,  naked,  short  and  black,  22,  23 ; 
tank  of  water,  and  turtle-doves,  24 ;  arrives  at  Medinathalnabi  (El- 
Medinah)  ;  barrenness  round  it ;  palm-garden ;  fables  about  Maho- 
met's tomb  denied,  25. 

Chapter   concerning   where  Mahomet  and  his   Companions   were 
buried,  26-28. 

The  mosque  described ;  books  of  Mahomet  and  his  Companions,  26 ; 
tombs  of  Mahomet,  Haly,  Babacher,  Othman,  Aumar,  and  Fatoma, 
27 ;  dissensions  of  Mahometan  sectaries,  28. 

Chapter  concerning  the  Temple  and  Sepulchre  of  Mahomet  and 
his  Companions,  28-31. 

Superior  of  the  Mosque  tries  to  trick  the  caravan,  28;  Varthema' s 
A  nil  lie,  29  ;  pretended  supernatural  illumination  of  the  sepulchre,  30; 

no  truth  about  the  loadstone,  31. 


Chapter  concerning  the  journey  to  go  from  Medina  to  Mecca,  31-35. 
Pilots  of  the  caravan,  31 ;  well  of  St.  Mark,  32 ;  sea  of  sand  (which 
shoidd  have  been  mentioned  before  the  Jews'  mountain)  and  its 
dangers,  33  ;  remarkable  mountain  and  grotto,  34 ;  two  fights  with 
Arabs ;  arrival  at  Mecca ;  four  brothers  fighting  for  the  lordship 
thereof,  35. 

Chapter  showing  how  Mecca  is  constructed,  and  why  the  Moors 
go  to  Mecca,  35-37. 

Description  of  Mecca,  35 ;  its  governors  ;  caravan  enters  the  city,  36 ; 
barrenness  round  the  city  renders  it  dependent  for  food  on  foreign 
parts,  37. 

Chapter  concerning  the  merchandize  in  Mecca,  38. 

Chapter  concerning  the  pardoning  in  Mecca,  38-41. 

The  Great  Temple  or  Mosque  described,  38 ;  the  tower  (El-Kiiaba),  39 ; 
the  well,  40;  ceremonies  performed  by  the  pilgrims,  41. 

Chapter  concerning  the  manner  of  the  sacrifices  in  Mecca,  42-4G. 

Sacrifices  of  sheep  at  a  motmtain ;  poor  pilgrims,  42 ;  discourse  of  the 
Cadi;  returns  to  Mecca;  stone-throwing,  and  legend  of  its  origin,  44; 
doves  of  Mecca,  45. 

Chapter  concerning  the  unicorns  in  the  Temple  of  Mecca,  not  very 
common  in  other  places,  46-49. 

Chapter  concerning  some  occurrences  between  Mecca  and  Zida,  a 
port  of  Mecca,  49-52. 

Varthema  recognized  as  a  European  by  a  certain  Moor,  49 ;  but  pro- 
fesses to  be  a  Mahometan  convert,  50;  the  Moor  conceals  him  in  his 
house,  and  the  Damascus  caravan  departs,  51 ;  whilst  Varthema  goes 
with  another  caravan  to  Zida  (Juddah),  52. 

Chapter  concerning  Zida,  the  port  of  Mecca,  and  of  the  Red 
Sea,  52-54. 

Zida  described;  Varthema  hides  in  a  mosque,  52;  agrees  with  a 
ship-master  going  to  Persia,  and  sads,  54. 

Chapter  showing  why  the  Red  Sea  is  not  navigable,  54. 


Chapter  concerning  the  City  of  Gezan  [Gazan],  and  of  its  fer- 
tility, 55,  56. 

Chapter  concerning  some  people  called  Baduin  [Bedawin],  56-57. 

Chapter  concerning  the  island  of  the  Red  Sea  called  Chama- 
ram  [Camran],  57,  58. 

The  island  and  its  productions,  57  ;  the  mouth  of  the  Red  Sea,  and 
island  of  Bebmendo  (Bab  el-Mandeb) ;  arrival  at  Aden,  58. 

Chapter  concerning  the  city  of  Aden,  and  of  some  customs  respect- 
ing the  merchants,  59,  65. 

Aden  described;  intense  heat;  Castle  (of  Seerah),  59;  mode  of 
securing  the  Sultan's  dues  from  ships;  Varthema  denounced  as  a 
Christian  spy,  and  put  in  irons,  60 ;  sent  to  the  Sultan  at  a  city 
called  Rhada  (Radaa),  61 ;    dialogue  with  the  Sultan ;    the  author 


professes  to  be  a  Mahomedan,  but  cannot  utter  the  creed,  and  is 
cast  into  prison,  63 ;  Sultan's  guard  of  Abyssinians ;  tlieir  dress  and 
arms,  (34 ;  camels  and  tents,  Go. 

Chapter  concerning  the  partiality  of  the  women  of  Arabia  Felix  for 
white  men,  65-68. 

The  Queen's  kindness  to  Varthenia,  65 ;  he  feigns  madness,  66,  67 ; 
he  is  removed  to  the  palace,  68. 

Chapter  concerning  the  liberality  of  the  Queen,  68-^3. 

The  Queen  makes  much  of  him,  but  he  evades  her  advances,  68-70 ; 
she  procures  his  release  from  the  Sultan,  71 ;  he  goes  to  Aden  and 
engages  a  passage  to  India,  73. 

Chapter  concerning  Lagi,  a  city  of  Arabia  Felix,  and  concerning 
Aiaz,  and  the  market  in  Aiaz,  and  the  castle  Dante,  73-75. 
Whilst  the  ship  delays  he  travels  over  Arabia  Felix;  to  Lagi  (Lahej), 
73;  Aiaz    ('Az'az),  74;   Mahomedan   sects;     strong    city   of    Dante 
(Damt),  75. 

Chapter  concerning  Almacarana,  a  city  of  Arabia  Felix,  and  of  its 
abundance,  75-77. 

Goes  to  Almacrana  (El-Makranah),  a  city  on  a  mountain,  75 ;  great 
reservoir;  and  the  Sultan's  treasure  kept  there,  77. 

Chapter  concerning  Reame,  a  city  of  Arabia  Felix,  and  of  its  air, 
and  of  the  customs  of  the  inhabitants,  77,  78. 

Goes  to  Eeame  (Yerim),  77;  fat-tailed  sheep;  seedless  grapes ; 
longevity  of  people,  78 ;  fashion  of  horns. 

Chapter  concerning  Sana,  a  city  of  Arabia  Felix,  and  of  the  strength 
and  cruelty  of  the  King's  son,  78-80. 

Goes  to  Sana  (Sanaa),  78;  the  Sultan's  endeavours  to  capture  it,  79; 
the  Sidtan  of  Sana's  mad  son,  who  eats  human  flesh,  80. 

Chapter  concerning  Taesa  and  Zibit  and  Damar,  very  large  cities 
of  Arabia  Felix,  80-82. 

Goes  to  Taesa  (Ta'ez),  80 ;  its  antiquity  and  buildings,  81 ;  goes  to 
Zibit  (Zebid) ;  goes  to  Damar  (Dhainar),  82. 

Chapter  concerning  the  Sultan  of  all  the  above-mentioned  cities, 
and  wherefore  he  is  called  by  the  name  of  Sechamir,  83,  84. 

The  name  explained ;  the  Sultan  puts  no  one  to  death  but  in  war ; 
but  had  thousands  in  prison. 

Chapter  concerning  apes,  and  some  animals  like  lions  very  hostile 
to  man,  84,  85. 

Returns  to  Aden,  84 ;  finds  a  mountain  with  numerous  apes,  and 
destructive  animals  Hke  Uons  (supposed  hyenas),  85 ;  goes  on  board 

Discourse  touching  some  places  of  Ethiopia,  85. 

An  accident  sends  them  to  the  coast  of  Ethiopia,  where  they  enter  the 
port  of  Zeila  (Zaila). 

Chapter  concerning  Zeila,  a  city  of  Ethiopia,  and  of  the  abundance 


of  it,  and  concerning  some  animals  of  the  said  city,  such  as 
sheep  and  cows,  86-88. 

Traffic  of  Zeila,  slave  trade,  &c,  88 ;  products ;  oil  of  zerzalino ;  fat- 
tailed  Berbera  sheep,  87 ;  twisted-tailed  sheep ;  stag-horned  cows ; 
one-horned  cows ;  the  Sidtan,  his  soldiers,  &c,  88. 

Chapter  concerning  Barbara,    an   island   of  Ethiopia,   and   of   its 
people,  88-90. 
Arrival  at  Barbara  (Berbera),  88 ;  sails  for  Persia,  90. 


Chapter  concerning  Diuobandierrumi,  and  Goa,  and  Giulfar,  lands 
of  Meschet,  a  port  of  Persia,  91-93. 

After  twelve  days  reaches  Diuobandierrunii  (Diu  in  Guzerat),  91  ; 
goes  to  Goa  (Gogha),  92;  to  Giulfar  (Julfar  in  the  Persian  Gidf),  93  ; 
and  Meschet  (Maskat). 

Chapter  concerning  Ormus,  a  city  and  island  of  Persia,  and  how 
they  get  very  large  pearls  at  it  by  fishing,  94,  95. 

Chapter  concerning  the  Sultan  of  Ormus,  and  of  the  cruelty  of  the 
son  against  the  Sultan  his  father,  his  mother,  and  his  bro- 
thers, 96-99. 

The  Sultan's  eleven  sons,  the  eldest  a  devil,  the  youngest  simple,  9G; 
the  former  murders  his  father,  mother,  and  brothers,  except  the 
youngest ;  he  tries  to  get  rid  of  two  powerful  favourites  of  his  father, 
and  is  slain  by  one  of  them,  97,  98  ;  who  causes  the  younger  brother 
to  be  proclaimed  Sultan,  99 ;  the  many  merchants  of  Ormus. 

Chapter  concerning  Eri  in  Corozani,  of  Persia,  and  of  its  riches, 
and  of  the  abundance  of  many  things,  and  especially  of  rhu- 
barb, 99-101. 

Varthema  passe  3  to  Persia,  and  travels  to  Eri  (Herat)  in  Corazani 
(Kkorassan),  99;  abundance  of  silk  and  rhubarb;  population,  101. 

Chapter  concerning  the  river  Eufra,  which  I  believe  to  be  the 
Euphrates,  101-103. 

Arrives  at  a  large  river  called  by  the  people  Eufra  (?  Pnlwan),  101 ; 
reaches  the  city  Schirazo  (Shiraz)  ;  turquoises  and  rubies  from 
Balachsam  (Badakksan),  102 ;  musk,  and  its  power  when  pure ; 
character  of  the   Persians;    liberality  and  kindness  of  Cozazionor 

(Khawaja  ),   a  Persian  merchant  who  proposes  that  Varthema 

should  travel  with  him;  they  set  out  towards  Sambragante  (Sainar- 
cand),  103. 

Chapter  concerning  Sambragante  (as  it  is  called),  a  very  large  city 
like  Cairo,  and  of  the  persecution  by  the  Sofn,  103,  104. 
The  greatness  of  Sambragante  and  its  king,  103;  but  they  are 
hindered  from  going  thither  by  the  Soffi's  (Shah  Isma'il  es-Sufi's) 
violence  against  believers  in  Bubachar,  Othnian,  and  Auniur  (viz. 
Sunnis) ;  Cozazionor  proposes  to  give  Varthema  his  beautiful  niece 
Samis  (Shams)  to  wife,  104;  they  return  to  Eri,  and  thence  to  Ormus, 
and  take  ship  for  India,  where  they  arrive  at  the  port  of  Cheo  (Jooa 
in  the  Indus  delta) . 



Chapter   concerning  Combeia,    a   city  of  India,    abounding  in  all 
things,  105-107. 

The  Indus,  and  city  of  Combeia  (Cambay),  105;  its  spices  (or  drugs), 
106 ;  cotton  j  and  precious  stones,  107. 

Chapter  concerning  the  estate  of  the  Sultan  of  the  very  noble  city 
of  Combeia,  107-110. 

Sultan  Machamuth  (Mahrnud  Bigarrah),  107;  the  Guzeratis,  their 
virtues  and  dress,  108;  the  Sultan's  pomp  and  elephants,  109;  his 
huge  mustachioes ;  his  daily  eating  of  poison,  and  spurting  it  on  those 
he  desires  to  kill;  his  embraces  fatal,  110;  great  trade  and  riches  of 
Cambay,  111. 

Chapter  concerning  the  manner  of  living  and  customs  of  the  King 
of  the  Joghe,  111   113. 

The  Pagan  king  of  the  Joghe,  his  people,  and  their  pilgrimages,  111 ; 
their  dress,  and  various  acts  of  devotion,  and  reputed  sanctity,  112 ; 
their  wars  with  Sultan  Machamuth,  113. 

Chapter  concerning  the  city  of  Ceval  [Chaul]  and  its  customs,  and 
the  bravery  of  its  people,  113,  114. 

Chapter  concerning  Dabuli,  a  city  of  India,  114,  115. 

Chapter  concerning  Goga,  an  island  of  India,  and  the  King  of  the 
same,  1 15,  116. 

Varthema  and  his  companion  go  to  Goga  (Goa),  115 ;  Pardai  a  gold 
coin  of  the  country  (pagodas) ,-  Mameluke  garrison  and  their  wars 
with  the  King  of  Narsinga,  116;  goes  on  to  the  city  of  Decan. 

Chapter  concerning  Decan,  a  very  beautiful   city  of  India,  and  its 
many  and  various  riches  and  jewels,  117,  118. 

The  city  of  Decan  (Bijapur)  and  its  Mohamedan  King,  117;  beautiful 
palace  and  houses ;  splendour  of  the  court,  118 ;  mountain  from  which 
diamonds  are  dug ;  veiled  ladies. 

Chapter  concerning  the  activity  of  the  King  in  military  affairs,  118. 

His  wars  with  Narsinga ;  his  navy  hostile  to  Christians ;  Varthema 
goes  to  Bathacala,  118. 

Chapter  concerning  Bathacala,  a  city  of  India,  and  of  its  fertility  in 
many  things,  and  especially  in  rice  and  sugar,  119,  120. 
Bathacala  (Bathcal,  Beitkul,  or  Sedashevaghur),  119;   its  trade  and 
fertility,  120 ;  absence  of  horses,  mules,  and  asses ;  Varthema  goes  to 
Anzediva  island. 

Chapter  concerning    Centacola,    Onor,    and    Mangolor,    excellent 
districts  of  India,  120-122. 

Arrives  at  Centacola  (Uncola  in  North  Canara),  120;  at  Onor  (Honah- 
war),  121 ;  its  productions,  fine  air,  and  longevity  of  the  people,  122; 


Chapter  concerning  Canonor,  a  very  great  city  in  India,  123-125. 
The  King  of  Portugal's  castle  at  Canonor,  123 ;  importation  of  horses, 
124 ;  spices  (properly  so  called)  begin ;  the  King's  Naeri  (Nairs)  and 
their  costume;    the   travellers   take  their  way  to   the   kingdom   of 
Narsinga,  and  reach  the  city  of  Bisinegar,  125. 

Chapter  showing  Bisinegar,  a  very  fertile  city  of  Narsinga  in 
India,  125-128. 

Great  size  and  defences  of  Bisinegar  (Bijayanagar),  125;  a  paradise 
of  a  place,  126 ;  the  power  of  the  Pagan  King ;  his  horsemen  and 
elephants;  equip inent  of  the  war  elephant;  his  docility,  127;  his 
dread  of  fireworks ;  how  elephants  were  employed  in  Varthema's 
presence  at  Canonor  to  beach  a  ship  ;  the  absence  of  joints  a  fable ; 
description  of  the  animal,  and  power  of  his  trunk,  128 ;  height  of  the 
elephant ;  pace,  and  how  they  are  mounted. 

Chapter  showing  how  elephants  generate,  129-131. 

They  generate  in  secret  marshes,  129 ;  parts  of  an  elephant  eaten  in 
some  countries ;  various  values  of  elephants ;  their  great  discretion  ; 
riches  of  the  King  of  Narsinga ;  dress  of  the  people  and  the  king ;  his 
coinage,  130 ;  lions ;  the  Portuguese  honoured  in  Narsinga,  131 ; 
return  to  Canonor,  and  go  to  Tormapatani. 

Chapter  concerning  Tormapatani,  a  city  of  India ;  and  concerning 
Pandarani,  a  place  one  day  distant;  and  concerning  Capo- 
gatto,  a  similar  district,  131-134. 

Torinapatani  (Dorinapatain),  131;  misery  of  the  people,  132;  timber 
for  ships ;  houses  worth  half  a  ducat ;  Pandarani ;  Capogatto,  133 ; 
go  to  Calicut ;  has  reserved  till  now  the  description  of  the  manners 
of  the  preceding  places  (because  similar  to  those  of  Calicut),  but  he 
will  now  describe  that  kingdom,  for  the  King  of  Calicut,  called 
Samory,  is  the  most  important,  134. 


Chapter  concerning  Calicut,  a  very  large  city  of  India,  135,  136. 
Description  of  the  city  and  poverty  of  the  houses. 

Chapter  concerning  the  King  of  Calicut,  and  the  religion  of  the 
people,  136-139. 

The  king  worships  the  devil,  136;  why,  137;  description  of  the  devil's 
chapel  and  images  of  Deumo  and  Sathanas ;  rites  and  ceremonies  of 
the  Brahmins  in  worshipping,  138. 

Chapter  concerning  the  manner  of  eating  of  the  King  of  Calicut, 

The  King's  food  first  offered  to  Deumo,  139 ;  and  how  the  Brahmins 
wait  on  the  King  when  eating,  140 ;  and  carry  their  relics  away  and 
give  them  to  the  black  crows,  140. 

Chapter  concerning  the  Brahmins,  that  is  the  priests  of  Calicut,  141. 

The  Brahmins  are  the  chief  persons  of  the  faith;  royal  marriage 


Chapter  concerning  the  Pagans  of  Calicut  and  of  what  classes  they 
are,  141,  142. 

Classes  of  the  Pagans,  141 ;  Brahmins ;  Naeri  (Nairs) ;  Tiva,  or  arti- 
sans, 142 ;  Mechua,  or  fishermen ;  Poliar,  who  collect  pepper,  wine, 
and  nuts  ;  Ilirava,  who  plant  lice;  degradation  of  the  two  last  before 
Brahmins  and  Naeri. 

Chapter  concerning  the  dress  of  the  King  and  Queen,  and  others 
of  Calicut,  and  of  their  food,  143. 

Chapter  concerning  the  ceremonies  which  they  perform  after  the 
death  of  the  King,  143,  144. 

Succession  goes  to  sister's  son,  143 ;  reasons  for  this,  144 ;  customs 
on  the  King's  death;  betel  eating. 

Chapter   showing    how    the    Pagans    sometimes    exchange    their 
wives,  145-147. 

Yarthema  shows  his  Malayahm,  145;  dialogue  between  two  mer- 
chants exchanging  wives;  poiyandria  of  the  other  classes  of 
pagans,  146. 

Chapter  concerning  the  manner  of  living,  and  of  the  administration 
of  justice  among  the  Pagans,  147,  148. 

How  they  eat,  147;  punishments;  impaling;  fines;  curious  mode  of 
enforcing  payment  of  debts. 

Chapter  concerning  the  mode  of  worship  of  the  Pagans,  149. 
Their  matutinal  washing ;  prayers ;  and  customs  of  cooking,  &c. 

Chapter  concerning  the  fighting  of  these  people  of  Calicut,  149-151. 

Army  of  the  King,  149;  dress,  150;  customs  of  battle;  the  Naeri 
(Nairs),  151;  customs  as  to  burning  and  burial;  money  of  Calicut; 
great  variety  of  nations  found  trading  there ;  great  numbers  of  Moors 
(Mohamedans) . 

Chapter  concerning  the  manner  of  navigating  in  Calicut,  152-154, 

Mode  of  ship-building,  152;  timber,  153;  sails;  anchors  of  niarble; 
seasons  of  navigation ;  names  of  the  different  classes  of  vessels,  154. 

Chapter  concerning  the  palace  of  the  King  of  Calicut,  155,  156. 

The  palace  and  its  small  value,  155 ;  why  they  cannot  dig  founda- 
tions, 156;  the  King's  jewels,  and  his  bad  humour,  with  the  reasons 
thereof;  his  treasures. 

Chapter  concerning   the    spices    which   grow  in   that    country  of 
Calicut,  157,  158. 
Pepper  described,  157;  ginger,  158;  myrobalans. 

Chapter  concerning  some  fruits  of  Calicut,  159-163. 

Fruit  called  ciccara  (jack),  159 ;  amba  (mango) ;  corcopal  (?),  161 ; 
fruit  like  a  medlar ;  comolanga  (?)  ;  malapolanda  (plantain),  162. 

Chapter  concerning  the  most  fruitful  tree  in  the  world,  163-166. 
The  tenga  (cocoa-nut  tree),  163 ;  its  many  uses,  164 ;  the  nuts ;  sub- 


stance  like  flax  which  is  woven,  165  ;  another  made  into  cords  ;  char- 
coal ;  excellent  water  contained  in  the  nnt ;  oil ;  sap  drawn  and  used 
for  wine ;  the  cutting  down  of  these  trees  not  forgiven,  166 ;  mode  of 
cultivation;  the  oil  of  zerzalino  (sesamum). 

Chapter  concerning  the  practice  they  follow  in  sowing  rice,  166,  167. 
Ploughing,  sowing,  and  devil-dancing,  167. 

Chapter  concerning  the  physicians  who  visit  the  sick  in  Calicut, 
Devil-dancers  employed  to  visit  the  sick,  167 ;  potion  of  ginger. 

Chapter  concerning  the  bankers  and  money-changers,  168-170. 

Their  balances  and  touchstones,  168 ;  the  brokers,  and  their  curious 
mode  of  bargaining  with  the  fingers  ;  weights  used  in  trade,  170. 

Chapter  showing  how  the    Poliari   and    Hirava  feed   their   chil- 
dren, 171-173. 

Singular  treatment  of  the  children,  1 71 ;  then'  agility ;  the  many 
animals  and  birds  of  Calicut,  172 ;  parrots ;  starlings  (or  mainas) ; 
apes  and  then-  tricks. 

Chapter  concerning  the  serpents  which  are  found  in  Calicut,  173. 
Great  marsh  serpents  (crocodiles),  173;  venomous  serpents;  protec- 
tion of  them ;  protection  of  cows,  174 ;  superstitions. 

Chapter  concerning  the  lights  of  the  King  of  Calicut,  174,  175. 

Vases  used  in  the  king's  house  for  lamps  described,  174;  feasting 
customs  on  expiry  of  mourning,  175. 

Chapter  showing  how  a  great  number  of  people  came  to  Calicut  on 
the  25th  of  December  to  receive  their  pardon,  175-177. 
Temple  in  a  tank,  175;  manner  of  the  sacrifice;  the  great  Sathanas; 
the  vast  number  assembled,  177. 


His  companion  cannot  sell  his  goods,  because  of  the  war  with  the 
King  of  Portugal,  178 ;  they  go  by  a  beautiful  river  (backwater)  to 
Caicolon,  179;  Christians  of  St.  Thomas,  180;  go  to  Colon  (Quilon), 
182;  and  thence  to  Chayl,  184;  pearl-fishery. 

Chapter  concerning  Cioromandel,  a  city  of  India,  186-188. 

City  of  Cioromandel,  186;  body  of  St.  Thomas,  187;  miracle  at  his 
tomb;  war  with  the  King  of  Tarnassari,  188;  Varthenia  and  his 
companion  go  to  Zailon  (Ceylon). 

Chapter  concerning  Zailani,  where  jewels  are  produced,  188-190. 

Four  kings  in  the  island,  188 ;  then'  wars,  189 ;  elephants ;  rubies, 
190 ;  mining  customs ;  excellent  fruits. 

Chapter  concerning  the  tree  of  the  canella  [cinnamon],  191-194. 

Cinnamon-tree  described,  191 ;  Adam's  Peak;  no  rice  in  Ceylon,  192; 
dress  and  character  of  the  people,  193:  no  artillery;  flowers;  sum- 
moned to  show  their  goods  to  the  King,  194. 


Chapter  concerning  Paleachct,  a  country  of  India,  194,  195. 

Palcachet  (Pulicat),  194;  its  trade,  195;  war  with  Tarnassari;  they 
set  out  for  that  place. 

Chapter  concerning  Tarnassari,  a  city  of  India,  196-199. 

Description  of  Tarnassari  (Tenasserim),  196 ;  the  King's  wars  with 
Narsinga  and  Banghella  (Bengal)  198;  his  army;  products  of  the 

Chapter  concerning  the  domestic  and  wild  animals  of  Tarnassari, 

Animals  detailed,  199;  bird  with  great  beak  (hornbill),  200;  great 
cocks  and  hens ;  cock-fighting ;  goats,  reniai-kable  sheep,  &c. ;  buffa- 
loes, 201 ;  great  bone  of  a  fish ;  dress  of  the  people. 

Chapter  showing  how  the  King  causes  his  wife  to  be  deflowered, 
and  so  also  the  other  pagans  of  the  city,  202-204. 

White  men  employed,  202;  dialogue  between  merohants  and  the 
author's  companion  recited. 

Chapter  showing  how  the  dead  bodies  are  preserved  in  this  city,  204. 
Burning  of  the  dead  and  preservation  of  the  ashes,  204 ;  odoriferous 
woods,  &c,  used  in  burning,  205. 

Chapter  showing  how  the  wife  is  burnt  alive  after  the  death  of  her 
husband,  206-208. 

Description  of  the  ceremonies  of  widow -burning,  206,  207;  another 
custom  of  proving  affection,  208. 

Chapter  concerning  the  administration  of  justice  which  is  observed 
in  Tarnassari,  209. 

Punishment  of  murder,  209;  conveying,  &c.;  the  King  heir  to  foreign 
merchants ;  funeral  customs  of  Moorish  merchants. 

Chapter  concerning  the  ships  which  are  used  in  Tarnassari,  210. 

Chapter  concerning  the  city  of  Banghella,  and  of  its  distance  from 
Tarnassari,  210-212. 

They  go  to  Banghella  (some  city  of  Bengal),  210  ;  the  Moorish  Sultan 
and  his  great  army,  211;  great  plenty  in  the  country,  212;  wealthy 
merchants ;  names  of  the  stuffs  exported. 

Chapter  concerning  some  Christian  merchants  in  Banghella,  212- 

Christian  merchants  from  a  city  called  Sarnau,  212 ;  their  dress,  213; 
their  bebef,  mode  of  writing,  observances ;  they  offer  to  take  Var- 
thema  and  his  companion  to  a  good  market,  214 ;  these  go  with  the 
Christians  to  Pego  (Pegu). 

Chapter  concerning  Pego,  a  city  of  India,  215. 

The  city  of  Pego,  215;  Christians  employed  by  the  King,  217;  animals, 
2JS;  parrots;  timber  (teak);  great  canes;  rubies  from  Capelhm;  the 
King's  wars  with  Ava;  they  go  in  search  of  the  King,  219;  but 
roi  urn  to  Pego,  and  are  admitted  to  an  interview  when  he  comes  back 


Chapter   concerning  the  dress  of  the  King  of  Pego  above-men- 
tioned, 219-222. 

The  King  described,  and  his  jewels,  219 ;  Yarthenia's  companion 
shows  his  corals,  220  ;  and  presents  them  to  the  King,  221 ;  the  King 
gives  rubies  in  return ;  his  wealth  and  liberality,  222 ;  products  of  his 
country ;  approach  of  the  King  of  Ava ;  women  burning  themselves. 

Chapter  concerning  the  city  Malacha  and  the  river  Gaza,  otherwise 
Gange,  as  I  think,  and  of  the  inhumanity  of  the  men,  223-228. 

Go  to  Melacha  (Malacca),  223 ;  great  river  more  than  twenty-five 
miles  wide,  called  Gaza  (the  Straits  of  Malacca)  ;  Sumatra ;  Sultan 
of  Melacha ;  tributary  to  the  King  of  Cini  (Siam),  224 ;  great  amount 
of  shipping ;  trade  and  produces,  225 ;  the  people  described,  22f> ; 
their  violence  and  insubordination,  227 ;  the  travellers  go  to  Pider 
(Pedir)  in  Sumatra,  22S. 

Chapter  concerning  the  island  of  Sumatra,  and  concerning  Pider, 
a  city  of  Sumatra,  228-232. 

Circumference  of  Sumatra,  229 ;  he  identifies  it  with  Taprobane ; 
the  inhabitants  and  their  customs,  230 ;  the\r  money,  231 ;  great 
elephants,  232. 

Chapter  concerning  another  sort  of  pepper,  and  concerning  silk 
and  benzoin,   which  are  produced   in  the  said  city  of  Pider, 
233,  234. 
Pepper  and  long  pepper,  233 ;  silk,  234 ;  benzoin. 

Chapter  concerning  three  sorts  of  aloes-wood,  234-237. 

Three  kinds  of  aloes-wood,  viz.,  calampat,  loban,  and  bochoY,  235 ; 
the  first  and  best  chiefly  purchased  in  Gran  Cathai,  in  Cini,  Macini, 
Sarnau,  and  Giava,  236. 

Chapter  concerning  the  experiment  with  the  said  aloes-wood  and 
benzoin,  238. 

The  Christians  show  by  experiment  the  excellence  of  kalanrpat  and 
of  benzoin ;  lacca-wood  used  for  dying  red. 

Chapter   concerning   the  variety  of  dealers   in  the  said  island   of 
Sumatra,  238. 

Beautiful  work  in  gold,  238 ;  numerous  money-changers,  239 ;  timber ; 
great  junks,  with  prows  each  way;  swimmers,  and  fireworkers. 

Chapter  concerning  the  houses,  and  how  they  are  covered  in  the 
said  island  of  Sumatra,  240-243. 

Houses  covered  with  turtle  shells,  240 ;  great  elephants'  teeth,  241 ; 
very  great  serpents ;  they  wish  to  see  spices  growing,  but  are  informed 
that  the  nutmegs  and  cloves  grow  much  farther  off ;  their  Christian 
companions  teach  them  what  they  must  do  to  go  there,  242 ;  they  buy 
two  small  vessels,  and  persuade  the  Christians  to  accompany 
them,  243. 

Chapter  concerning  the  island  of  Bandan,  where  nutmegs  and  mace 
grow,  243,  244. 
Pass  many  islands,  243 ;  arrive  at  Bandan,  244  j  description  of  the 


people,  and  of  the  nutmeg-tree ;  stupidity  of  the  people ;  determine 
to  go  to  the  clove  island. 

Chapter  concerning  the  island  of  Monoch,  where  the  cloves  grow, 

Reach  the  island  of  Monoch  (Moluccas),  245;  the  clove-tree  de- 
scribed, 246. 

Chapter  concerning  the  island  of  Bornei,  246-248. 

The  Christians  propose  to  show  them  the  largest  and  richest  island  in 
the  world  (apjiarently  Java),  247;  but  they  niust  first  go  to  another 
island  called  Bornei  (Borneo) ;  which  they  reach  accordingly,  248 ; 
the  Christians  are  charmed  with  Vartheina's  conversation  about  the 
saints,  and  wish  him  to  go  home  with  them ;  notices  of  Bornei ;  they 
charter  a  vessel  for  Giava. 

Chapter  showing  how  the  mariners  manage  the  navigation  towards 
the  island  of  Giava,  248-251. 

The  captain  carries  compass  and  chart  with  lines,  249 ;  how  he  navi- 
gated thereby,  but  tells  them  how  beyond  Giava  there  are  some  races 
who  sail  by  certain  stars  opposite  to  the  north  (antarctic) ;  and  that 
there  the  day  is  only  four  hours  long,  and  'tis  colder  than  in  any 
part  of  the  world,  251. 

Chapter  concerning  the  island  of  Giava,  of  its  faith,  manner  of 
living  and  customs,  and  of  the  things  which  grow  in  the  said 
Island,  251-255. 

Arrive  at  Giava,  251 ;  religion  of  the  island ;  its  products,  252 ;  cha- 
racter and  features  of  the  people,  253 ;  birds ;  dress  of  the  people ; 
arms,  254 ;  blowpipes ;  food. 

Chapter  showing  how  in  this  island  the  old  people  are  sold  by  their 
children  or  their  relations  and  afterwards  are  eaten,  255-257. 
Fathers  when  aged  sold  in  the  market  for  food,  255 ;  sick  persons 
killed  and  sold,  256 ;  Vartheina's  comrade  takes  alann. 

Chapter  where,  at  midday,  the  sun  casts  a  shadow  in  the  island  of 
Giava,  257,  258. 

The  sun  casts  a  shadow  to  the  south  in  June,  257 ;  their  fear  of  being 
eaten ;  purchase  of  emeralds  and  mutilated  children,  258. 

Chapter  concerning  our  return,  258-263. 

Charter  a  junk  and  return  to  Malacha,  258 ;  part  with  the  Christians 
of  Sarnau,  to  the  great  grief  of  these,  259 ;  sail  to  Cioromandel,  and 
take  another  ship  to  Colon  (Quilon) ;  they  proceed  to  Calicut,  where 
Varthema  finds  two  Milanese  Christians  who  made  ordnance  for  the 
king ;  Varthema  plays  the  hypocrite,  pretending  to  be  a  Mussulman 
saint,  and  is  much  venerated,  262. 

Chapter  showing  how  I  made  myself  a  physician  in  Calicut, 

Varthema  called  to  visit  a  silk  merchant,  263 ;  his  medical  practice, 
264 ;  and  its  success ;  his  fame  as  a  saint  spreads,  but  he  keeps  up 
secret  communication  with  the  Christians,  265. 


Chapter  concerning  the  news  of  the  ships  of  the  Portuguese  which 
came  into  Calicut,  266. 

Two  Persian  merchants  of  Cannanore  report  the  arrival  of  the  Portu- 
guese fleet  there,  and  the  comrnencement  of  a  fort ;  Varthenia  pre- 
tends to  denounce  them,  266. 

Chapter  showing  how  the  Moors  summon  to  the  church  those  who 
are  of  their  sect  and  faith,  267,  268. 

Takes  occasion  to  describe  the  call  to  prayer  (adh'm),  267 ;  Varthema 
sets  forth  (as  Imam)  to  lead  the  prayers  of  the  congregation  in  the 
mosque  ;  gives  his  version  of  the  prayer  (Fdtihah)  ;  pretends  illness, 
and  his  comrade  proposes  his  going  to  Cannanore  for  change,  268. 

Chapter  concerning  the  flight  from  Calicut,  268-270. 

Varthema  after  doubts  and  fears  sets  out  by  sea  with  the  two  mer- 
chants of  Cannanore,  268  ;  they  are  stopped  by  the  Nairs  ;  they  start 
by  land  till  they  find  a  boat  which  takes  them  to  Cannanore,  270 ; 
where  a  friend  of  his  (Mussulman)  comrade  receives  him  hospitably. 

Chapter  showing  how  I  escaped  from  Cananor  to  the  Portuguese, 

He  makes  his  way  to  the  Portuguese  factory,  and  takes  refuge  with 
Don  Lorenzo  de  Almeyda,  271  ;  to  whom  he  relates  all  the  prepara- 
tions at  Calicut ;  and  is  then  sent  to  the  Viceroy  at  Cochin,  272  ;  the 
Viceroy  receives  him  well  and  gives  him  a  safe  conduct  for  the  two 
Milanese ;  he  makes  many  attempts  to  induce  them  to  escape  alone 
with  their  jewels  and  money ;  but  their  avarice  causes  delays  and  they 
are  betrayed,  273 ;  the  Moorish  merchants  combine  to  bribe  the  King 
of  the  Gioghi,  who  was  then  at  Calicut,  to  have  them  murdered,  274 ; 
Varthema  protects  the  son  of  one  of  them,  who  dies  a  year  later. 

Chapter  concerning  the  fleet  of  Calicut,  274-280. 

Description  of  the  great  fleet  which  issued  from  the  ports  of  Calicut, 
274 ;  the  Viceroy's  son  having  but  eleven  ships  to  meet  them,  275 ;  he 
exhorts  his  officers  and  men ;  the  chaplain  follows  with  a  discourse 
and  absolution  ;  but  the  main  fight  takes  place  next  day  near  Can- 
nanore, 277  ;  gallantry  of  Captain  Joan  Sarrano  and  of  Captain  Simon 
Martin,  278 ;  rout  and  pursuit  of  the  Calicut  fleet,  279 ;  great  slaughter 
of  the  enemy ;  bravery  of  the  Portuguese ;  and  joy  of  the  Viceroy,  280. 

Chapter  showing  how  I  was  sent  back  to  Canonor  by  the  Viceroy, 

Varthema  made  factor  by  the  Viceroy  and  sent  to  Cannanore,  280 ; 
King  of  Cannanore  dying,  the  new  king  is  hostile,  281 ;  war  breaks 
out  and  the  fort  is  beleaguered  from  April  to  August,  282  ;  when  they 
are  relieved  by  the  fleet  from  Portugal ;  miraculous  aid  hinted  at,  284 ; 
superstition  of  the  Moors,  285  ;  enchanters  among  them,  286. 

Chapter  concerning  the  assault  of  the  Portuguese  upon  Pannani, 
Varthema  obtains  leave  to  go  to  Europe,  286  ;  but  first  takes  part  in 
the  assault  on  Pannani,  287 ;  desperate  fighting;  Varthema  is  knighted 
by  the  Viceroy,  288 ;  return  to  Cannanore. 



Chapter  concerning  the  various  islands  in  Ethiopia,  289,  290. 

They  sail  from  India,  and  arrive  at  Mozarubich,  289 ;  notices  of  Me- 
lindi,  Mombaza,  Chiloa  (Kilwah  or  Quiloa),  Zaphala  (Sofala),  Gogia 
(Angoxa),  Pati  (Pate),  Brava,  the  islands  of  Socotra,  of  Cumere  (Co- 
moro), and  Penda  (Peniba),  290. 

Chapter   concerning  the   island  of  Mozambich  and  its  inhabitants, 

Products  of  Mozambich  are  gold  and  oil,  291 ;  natives,  their  low  state, 
292 ;  wild  elephants,  293 ;  extraordinary  speech  of  the  negroes ;  barter 
with  them,  294 ;  proceed  on  then-  voyage,  passing  the  island  of  San 
Lorenzo  (Madagascar) ;  the  Portuguese  conversions  in  India  merit 
success  for  the  king's  arms. 

Chapter  concerning  the  Cape  of  Good  Hope,  296-298. 

Pass  the  Cape  of  Good  Hope  at  a  distance  of  200  miles,  296 ;  pass  near 
St.  Helena,  where  they  see  two  great  and  extraordinary  fishes,  291 ;  find 
the  island  of  Ascension,  and  certain  stupid  bh-ds  thereon  ;  begin  to 
see  the  north  star;  reach  the  islands  of  Astori  (Azores) ;  and  Lisbon; 
Varthema  has  an  interview  with  the  King  of  Portugal,  298,  who  con- 
firms his  patent  of  knighthood;  Varthema  proceeds  to  Rome. 



The  following  translation  has  been  made  from  the 
first  edition  of  Varthema's  work  printed  at  Rome  in 
the  year  1510,  or,  as  stated  in  the  colophon  :  "  Nel 
Anno  M.D.X.  a  di  •  vi  de  Decembrio."  It  is  impos- 
sible to  peruse  Varthema's  narrative  and  not  feel  a 
conviction  that  the  writer  is  telling  the  truth,  that  he 
is  recording  events  which  actually  took  place,  and 
describing  men,  countries  and  scenes  which  he  had 
examined  with  his  own  eyes.  There  is  a  manifest 
absence  of  all  attempt  at  composition.  The  tale  is 
told  with  a  charming  simplicity  and  all  the  concise 
freshness  of  a  note-book,  and  the  author  has  evi- 
dently not  stopt  to  consider  whether  the  word  he 
used  was  Bolognese,  Venetian,  or  "Lingua  Toscana." 
Neither  has  he  felt  any  qualms  of  conscience  as  to 
his  grammar.  This  latter  circumstance  has  occa- 
sionally rendered  the  meaning  of  a  passage  somewhat 
doubtful.  The  printers  also  have  added  their  mite 
to  the  obscurity  by  sometimes  uniting  two  words 
or  sentences  together,  or  separating  one  word  or 
sentence   into  two,  or  by   leaving  out  a  word  alto- 



gether.  This  edition,  however,  is  the  only  one  which 
gives  Varthcma's  text  truly.  Even  the  Latin  trans- 
lation by  Archangelus  Madrignanus  (a  monk  of 
the  abbey  of  Clairvaux),  which  was  finished  on  the 
25th  day  of  May  1511,  or  within  six  months  after 
the  publication  of  the  first  Italian  edition,  is  not 
always  an  exact  exponent  of  Varthema's  text.  Later 
editions  vary  still  more,  and  the  English  translation, 
which  is  given  in  Eden's  Collection  of  Voyages  and 
Travels,  printed  at  London  in  1577,  is  extremely  im- 
perfect :  many  passages  are  totally  at  variance  with  the 
original,  and  many  others  are  omitted.  It  has,  there- 
fore, been  thought  advisable  by  the  Council  of  the 
Hakluyt  Society  that  a  new  version  should  be  exe- 
cuted, which  should  as  far  as  possible  be  a  faithful 
representative  of  the  original  work.  With  this 
object  in  view,  the  translator  has  endeavoured  to 
preserve  the  quaint  dry  style  of  the  author.  This 
must  be  his  excuse  for  retaining  some  expressions 
which  are  hardly  suited  to  the  refinement  of  the 
present  day,  and  for  not  omitting  some  anecdotes 
which  a  writer  in  modern  times  would  hardly  ven- 
ture to  record.  They,  however,  afford  an  additional 
voucher  for  the  truth  of  the  narrator :  it  is  impos- 
sible to  imagine  them  to  be  inventions,  and  they  only 
make  us  feel  the  more  assured  that  we  are  really 
travelling  with  Varthema,  and  sharing  with  him  in 
all  his  adventures.  His  work  at  once  attracted 
attention.  It  was,  as  stated  above,  immediately 
translated  into  Latin,  shortly  afterwards  into  Ger- 
man,   then    into    Spanish    and    French,    again    into 


German,  then  into  Dutch  and  English,  a  third  time 
into  German,  and  again  into  Dutch  in  the  middle 
of  the  1 7th  century. 

All  the  early  editions,  as  well  of  the  original  Ita- 
lian as  of  the  translations  of  this  work,  are  extremely 
rare  and  costly.  The  consequence  is,  that  there  is, 
perhaps,  no  work  which  has  been  so  frequently  re- 
produced, of  which  the  lists  given  by  bibliographers 
are  so  inaccurate  and  imperfect.  They  have  been 
obliged  to  copy  one  from  another  without  the  means 
of  testing  the  accuracy  of  their  statements.  The 
translator  has  had  the  advantage  of  seeing  most  of 
the  editions  of  which  he  gives  the  titles,  and  has 
described  them  somewhat  fully  for  the  benefit  of 
those  to  whom  the  originals  may  not  be  conveniently 

The  following  is  a  list  of  the  most  important 
editions  of  this  work  : — 


1.  Itineraries  de  Ludouico  de  Varthema  Bolognesc  nello 
Egypto,  nella  Surria,  nella  Arabia  deserta  &  felice  ;  nella 
Persia,  nella  India  &  nella  Ethiopa.  La  fede,  el  uiuere, 
&  costumi  de  tutte  le  prefate  Prouincie  con  Gratia  &  Pri- 
vilegio  infra  notato. 

Colophon. — Stampato  in  Roma  per  maestro  Stephano  guil- 
lireti  de  Loreno  &  maestro  Hercule  de  Nani  Bolognese, 
ad  instatia  de  maestro  Lodouico  de  Henricis  da  Corneto 
Vicetino.     Nel  Anno  m.d.x.  a  di  •   vi.  de  Decembrio.    4°. 

This  edition  contains  102  leaves,  besides  the  title, 
100  of  which  are  numbered,  and  the  two  leaves  con- 
taining the  last  page  of  the  privilege,  and  the  first 

b  2 


three  pages  of  the  table  being  unnumbered.  This  is 
the  first  Italian  edition,  and  is  of  excessive  rarity. 
Until  recently,  very  few  bibliographers  were  aware 
of  its  existence.  A  copy  is  in  the  Grenville  Library 
in  the  British  Museum. 

S.  Itinerario  de  Ludouico  de  Varthema  Bolognese  nello 
egypto  nella  Suria ;  nella  Arabia  deserta  et  felice  nella 
Persia  nella  India  et  nella  Ethiopia  Le  fede,  el  viuere  et 
costumi  de  tutte  le  pfate  prouincie.     Cu  Priuilegio. 

Colophon. — Impresso  in  Rome  per  Mastro  Stephano  Guil- 
lireti  De  Loreno  Nel  anno  m.d.xvij  adi  .  xvi  de  Junio 
Cum  gratia  et  Privilegio  del  S.  Signore  N.  S.  Leone, 
p.  p.  X.  in  suo  anno  quinto.     8°. 

This  edition  contains  title,  seven  leaves  of  prelimi- 
nary matter  (viz.  the  privilege  and  table  of  contents), 
and  123  leaves  of  text  not  numbered.  Signatures 
A  ij  to  Q  vj. 

The  Privilege  is  dated  10th  of  June  1517.  In  this 
Privilege  it  is  stated  that  licence  is  given  to  Stephanus 
Guillereti  de  Lothoringia  to  print  the  book,  "  Ludo- 
vico  defuncto,  neminem  ex  heredibus  superesse  qui 
ex  nova  impressione  vel  jactura  vel  injuria  afficiatur." 
It  is  also  stated  that  all  the  copies  of  the  former  im- 
pression were  sold. 

The  only  known  copy  of  this  edition  is  in  the 
Grenville  Library. 

Mr.  Grenville,  in  a  note  upon  this  copy,  speaking 
of  some  of  the  editions  of  the  book,  says  : — 

"  It  was  a  third  time  printed  in  Italian,  at  Venice  in  1518, 
and  this  third  Italian  edition  is  by  Haym,  and  most  of  the 
books  of  bibliography,  described  as  the  first.     In  truth,  the 


two  first  Italian  editions  of  1510  and  1517  are  so  rare,  that 
I  find  no  notice  whatever  of  either  of  them,  except  in  Croft's 
Catalogue,  No.  8045—8046,  and  quoted  by  Brunet  from 
Croft's.  This  copy  [of  the  edition  of  1517]  comes  from  the 
Blandford  sale ;  it  had  been  bought  at  Croft's  sale.  I  have 
seen  no  copy  but  this  of  this  edition.  It  is  unknown  to 
Panzer,  Maittaire,  Haym,  &c." 

3.  Itinerario  De  Ludouico  De  Varthema  Bolognese  ne  lo 
Egypto,  ne  la  Suria,  ne  la  Arabia  Deserta  &  Felice  ne  la 
Persia  ne  la  India  ne  la  Ethiopia.  La  fede  el  viuere  & 
costumi  de  tutte  le  pfate  pulcie,  Nouamete  impsso. 

Colophon. — Stampata  in  Venetia  per  Zorzi  di  Rusconi 
Milanese  :  Regnando  linclito  Principe  Miser  Leonardo 
Loredano  :  Nella  incarnatioe  del  nro  signore  Jesu  xpo 
m.d.xvii.  adi  vi  del  Mese  de  Marzo.     8°. 

This  edition  is  printed  in  double  columns,  and  con- 
tains ninety-two  unnumbered  leaves.  Signatures  A  ii 
to  M.  The  table  of  contents  occupies  four  pages,  and 
commences  on  the  verso  of  sig.  M. 

This  edition  was  printed  in  1518,  new  style,  the 
year  then  commencing  on  the  25th  of  March.  A 
copy  is  in  the  Banksian  Library  in  the  British 

4.  Itinerario  De  Ludouico  De  Verthema  Bolognese  ne  lo 
Egypto  ne  la  Suria  ne  la  Arabia  Deserta  e  Felice  ne  la 
Persia  ne  la  India  :  e  ne  la  Ethiopia.  La  fede  el  uiuere  e 
costumi  de  tutte  le  p'refate  prouincie.     Nouamente  impresso. 

Colophon. — Stampata  in  Milano  per  Ioanne  Angelo  Scin- 
zenzeler  Nel  Anno  del  signor  m.cccccxix.  Adi  vltimo  de 
Mazo.     4°. 

This  copy  contains  fifty-eight  unnumbered  leaves. 
Signatures  a  ii.  to  g  iii.     The  colophon  is  printed  on 


a  separate  leaf,  and  is  followed  by  two  leaves  of  the 
table  of  contents. 

A  copy  of  this  edition  is  in  the  Royal  library  in 
the  British  Museum. 

5.  Itinerario  De  Ludouico  De  Verthema  Bolognese  ne 
lo  Egypto  ne  la  Suria  ne  la  Arabia  Deserta  &  Felice  ne 
la  Persia  ne  la  India :  &  ne  la  Ethiopia  La  fede  el  uiuere 
&  costumi  de  tutte  le  prefate  prouincie.  Nouamente  irn- 

The  type  in  the  colophon  has  got  shifted.  It 
reads  : — 


M.ccc  mpata  in  Milano  per  Johanne  Angelo 
Scinzenzeler   nel  Anno  del   Signor 
ccxxiii.  adi_  xxx   <je  Aprile.     4°. 

This  edition  contains  title,  forty-one  leaves  num- 
bered ii  to  xlii,  and  two  leaves  of  table  of  contents 
not  numbered.     Signatures  A  ii  to  F  ii. 

A  copy  of  this  edition  of  1523  is  in  the  Grenville 

6.  Itinerario  de  Ludouico  De  Varthema  Bolognese  nello 
Egitto,  nella  Soria  nella  Arabia  deserta,  &  felice,  nclla 
Persia,  nella  India,  &  nela  Ethyopia.  Le  fede  el  viuere, 
&  costumi  delle  prefate  Prouincie.  Et  al  psente  agiontoui 
alcune  Isole  nouamete  ritrouate. 

Colophon. — Stampato  in  Vinegia  per  Francesco  di  Ales- 
sandro  Bindone,  &  Mapheo  Pasini  compani,  a  santo  Moyse 
al  segno  de  Langelo  Raphael,  nel  m.d.xxxv.  del  mese 
d'Aprile.     8°. 

The  Itinerary  of  Varthema  terminates  on  the  recto 
of  page  89,  with  the  following  words  : — 


"  Qui  Finisse  lo  Itinerario  de  Ludovico  de  Varthema 
Bolognese,  de  li  paesi  et  Isole  la  Fede  el  vivere  et  costumi 
loro.     Nuovamente  per  lui  visto  in  piu  parte." 

Followed  by — 

"  Qui  comencia  lo  Itinerario  de  Lisola  de  Iuchatan  noua- 
mente  retrouata  per  il  Signor  Joan  de  Grisalue  Capitan 
Generale  de  Larmata  del  Re  de  Spagna  e  p  il  suo  Capellano 

This  edition  consists  of  103  leaves,  of  which  99  are 
numbered ;  the  title-page,  and  table  of  contents,  and 
device  at  the  end,  are  not  numbered.  The  colophon 
is  printed  at  the  end  of  the  table ;  the  device  occupies 
a  separate  leaf,  and  represents  the  "  Archangelus 
Raphael"  leading  with  his  right  hand  "  Tobiodo," 
(who  is  represented  as  a  little  child  with  a  large  fish 
in  his  hand),  and  having  on  his  left  Tobit's  dog. 

The  Itinerary  of  the  Island  of  Yucatan  is  printed 
in  this  edition  of  Varthema  for  the  first  time. 

A  copy  of  this  edition  is  in  the  Grenville  Library. 

7.  Itinerario  de  Ludovico  De  Varthema  Bolognese  nello 
Egitto,  nella  Soria,  nella  Arabia  deserta,  &  felice,  & 
nella  Persia,  nella  India,  &  nella  Ethyopia.  Le  fede,  el 
viuere,  &  costumi  delle  prefate  Prouincie.  Et  al  Presente 
Agiontovi  alcune  Isole  nuouamente  trouate. 

Colophon. — In  Venetia  per  Matthio  Pagan,  in  Frezzaria, 
al  segno  della  Fede.     8°. 

The  type  in  the  colophon  has  got  shifted.  This 
edition  reads  page  for  page  with  that  of  1535.  One 
has  evidently  been  closely  reprinted  from  the  other. 

Mr.  Grenville  was  of  opinion  that  this  edition  was 
printed  in  1518.     This,  however,  must  be  a  mistake. 


as  Matthio  Pagan  or  Pagano  printed  at  Venice  be- 
tween the  years  1554  and  1569  (see  also  "  Saggio  di 
Bibliografia  Veneziana,  composto  da  E.  A.  Cicogna." 
Venezia  1847),  and  his  name  is  not  found  in  any  list 
of  printers  prior  to  that  date.  The  circumstance 
which  renders  it  important  to  fix  the  date  of  this  edi- 
tion is  that  of  the  "  Itinerario  de  l'lsola  de  Juchatan," 
being  printed  for  the  first  time  with  the  work  of 
Varthema.  If  Mr.  Grenville  be  correct,  then  the 
Itinerary  was  printed  in  1518  ;  if  not,  it  was  not 
printed  until  1535.  It  is  not  included  in  any  edi- 
tion bearing  a  date  prior  to  that  of  1535. 

A  copy  is  in  the  Grenville  Library. 

Varthema  is  also  inserted  by  Ramusio  in  his 
"  Prime  volume  delle  navigationi  et  viaggi  nel  qual  si 
contiene  la  descrizione  dell'  Africa,  et  del  paese  del 
prete  Janni  con  varii  viaggi  dal  Mar  Rosso  a  Calicut  et 
infin  all'  isole  Molucche  dove  nascono  de  spetierie," 
&c.  Venetia,  1550.  Fol.  Ramusio  had  evidently 
never  seen  the  first  or  second  editions,  as  he  tells  us 
that  he  had  made  use  of  the  Spanish  translation  from 
the  Latin,  in  order  to  correct  the  corrupted  text  then 
in  use.  It  may  naturally,  therefore,  be  supposed  that 
such  a  process  cannot  have  restored  the  language  of 
the  original. 

Boucher  de  la  Richarderie  ("  Bibliotheque  Univer- 
selle  des  Voyages  ")  mentions  an  edition  in  Italian 
printed  by  Rusconi  at  Venice  in  1520,  and  another 
printed  at  the  same  place  in  1589  ;  and  Ternaux 
Compans  inserts  in  his  "  Bibliotheque  Asiatique  et 
Africa  ine"  the  title  of  an  edition  printed  by  Scin- 


zenzeler  at  Milan  in  1525  in  4°.    Beckmann  ( Vorrath) 
mentions  an  edition  printed  at  Venice  in  fol.  in  1563. 


We  have  already  said  that  the  travels  of  Varthema 
were  translated  into  Latin  within  a  few  months  after 
the  appearance  of  the  Italian  edition,  the  dedicatory 
epistle  of  the  translator  bearing  the  date  "  Mediolani 
octavo  calen.  Junias  mdxi."  [25  May,  1511.]  Al- 
though there  is  no  date  to  this  edition,  it  was  most 
probably  printed  in  the  year  the  dedication  bears 
date,  or  very  shortly  afterwards.  The  title  is  as 
follows : — 

Ludovici  Fatritii  Romani  novum  Itinerarium  iEthiopise : 
JEgypti :  vtriosque  Arabise  :  Persidis  :  Siriae  :  ac  India; : 
intra  et  extra  Gangem.    4°. 

The  dedicatory  epistle  bears  the  following  inscrip- 
tion : — 

Reverendissimo  in  Christo  Patri  Domino  Domino  Bernar- 
dino Carvaial  episcopo  Sabino  :  Sancte  crucis  in  Hierusalem 
Cardinali  amplissimo  :  Patriarchs  Hyerosolimeo  :  ac  utri- 
usque  philosophise  monarchal  eminentissimo,  Archangelus 

In  this  epistle  the  translator  gives  a  rapid  geogra- 
phical sketch  of  the  various  parts  of  the  world,  show- 
ing the  interest  and  importance  of  Varthema's  work, 
which,  he  says,  "  tuis  auspiciis  effectus  est  romanus 
et,  quasi  serpens,  exuto  senio  elegantioreque  sumpto 
amictu  juvenescit." 

Colophon. — "  Operi  suprema  manus  imposita  est  auspitiis 
cultissimi  celebratissimiq :  Bernardini  Carauaial  hispani. 
Epi    sabinen.    S.R.E.    Cardialis    cognometo   sancte    crucis 


amplissimi.  quo  tpe  quibus  nunq :  antca  bcllis :  Italia 
crudele  Imodu  uexabat." 

This  edition  consists  of  sixty-two  numbered  leaves, 
besides  eight  preliminary  leaves.    Sigs.  AA.  A.  to  I  v. 

Ternaux  Com  pans  (Bibliotlwque  Asiatique  et  Afri- 
caine)  gives  the  title  of  an  edition  of  Madrignanus's 
translation  of  1508  ;  but  this  is  clearly  a  mistake,  the 
Italian  not  having  been  printed  until  1510,  and  the 
epistle  to  the  Latin  translation  bearing  date  1511. 

A  copy  of  the  edition  of  1511  is  in  the  Grenville 

Another  Latin  edition  was  printed  at  Nuremburg 
in  1610,  and  again  at  Francfort  in  1611.  It  was 
also  inserted  in  the  "  Novus  Orbis"  of  Grynceus. 

Four  years  after  the  Latin  translation  a  German 
version  was  published  with  the  following  title  :— 

1 .  Die  Ritterlich  vn  lobwirdig  rayss  des  gestrengen  vn 
uber  all  ander  weyt  erfarnen  ritters  vnd  Lantfarers  herren 
Ludowico  vartomans  vo  Bolonia  Sagent  vo  den  landen, 
Egypto,  Syria,  vo  bayden  Arabia,  Persia,  India,  vn  Ethiopia 
vo  den  gestalte,  syte  vn  dero  menschen  leben  vnd  gelauben. 
Auch  von  manigerlay  thyeren  voglen  vnd  vil  andern  in  den 
selben  landen  seltzamen  wiiderparlichen  sachens.  Das  alles 
er  selbs  erfaren  vn  in  aygner  person  gesehen  hat. 

Colophon. — Auss  welscher  zungen  in  teytsch  transferyert 
und  seligklichen  volend  worden  in  der  Kayserlichen  stat 
Augspurg  in  Kostung  und  verlegung  des  Ersamen  Hansen 
Millers  der  jar  zal  Christi  1515.  An  dem.  sechzechen  den 
Tag  des  Monatz  Junij.     4°. 

This  edition  consists  of  76  leaves  not  numbered. 


Signatures  a  ii  to  t.  iii.    The  printer's  device  occupies 
the  last  leaf. 

A  copy  is  in  the  Grenville  Library. 

2.  Die  Ritterlich  und  lobwurdig  reiss  des  gestrengen  \h 
uber  all  ander  weyt-erfarne  Hitters  vii  landtfarers  herre 
Ludowico  Vartomans  vo  Bolonia  Sagend  von  den  landen, 
Egypto,  Syria,  von  beiden  Arabia,  Persia,  India,  vnd 
Ethiopia,  von  den  gestalten,  sitten  vnd  dero  menschen 
leben  vnd  glauben.  Auch  von  manigerley  thieren,  voglen 
vnd  vil  andern  in  den  selben  landen  seltzamen  wunderbar- 
liclien  sachen.  Das  alles  er  selbs  erfaren  vnd  in  eygner 
person  gesehe  hat. 

Colophon. — Auss  Welscher  zungen  in  Teutsch  transffe- 
riert.  Unnd  selighlichen  volendet  unnd  getruckt  in  des 
Keyserliche  Freystat  Strassburg.  Durch  den  Ersame  Jo- 
hannem  Knobloch,  Als  man  zalt  vo  der  geburt  Christi 
unsers  herre  mcccccxvj.  Jar.  4°. 

This  edition  contains  113  unnumbered  leaves. 
Signatures  A  ij  to  X.  v. 

A  copy  is  in  the  British  Museum. 

Both  these  editions  are  copiously  illustrated  with 
engravings  on  wood. 

Panzer  (Annalen  der  cilteren  Deutschen  Literatur, 
p.  421,)  gives  the  following: — 

"  3.  Die  Rittertich  vnd  lobwirdig  raiss  des  gestregen  vnd 
iiber  all  ander  weyt  erfarnen  ritters  \n  landfarers,  herren 
Ludowico  Vartomans  von  Bolonia.  Sagent  vo  den  landen 
Egipto.  Syria,  vo  bayden  Arabia.  Persia.  India,  vfi  Ethiopia. 
Das  alles  er  selbs  erfaren  vnd  gesehen  hat."  Colophon. — 
"  Getrucht  in  der  kaiserlichen  stat  Augspurg,  in  der  jar  zal 
Christi  m.d.xvtii."  4°. 

Panzer  is  of  opinion  that  this  translation  may  have 


been  made  by  Michael  Herr.  It  will  be  shown, 
however,  hereafter,  that  this  cannot  have  been  the 
case.     It  was  reprinted  at  Augsburg  in  1530. 

In  1532  Simon  Gryna?us  published  at  Basle,  in 
folio,  a  collection  of  voyages  and  travels,  under  the 
title,  "  Novus  orbis  regionum  ac  insularum  veteribus 
incognitarum  una  cum  tabula  eosmographica  et 
aliquot  aliis  consimilis  argumenti  libellis,"  in  which 
he  included  the  Latin  translation  of  Varthema.  This 
collection  was  translated  into  German  by  Michael 
Herr,  under  the  title,  "  Die  New  "Welt,"  and  printed 
at  Strasburg  in  1534.  In  the  introductory  epistle  to 
Regnart  Count  of  Hanau,  he  says,  that  if  he  had 
met  with  the  German  translation  of  Varthema  (whom 
he  calls  Varthoman)  before  he  had  made  his  own,  he 
should  have  been  glad  to  have  been  spared  his  trouble. 
It  is  clear,  therefore,  that  Herr  did  not  make  the 
German  translation  published  in  1515  and  1516. 
Herr's  translation  was  executed  from  the  Latin — 
that  of  1515  from  the  Italian. 

Another  translation  by  Hieronymus  Megiserus, 
historiographer  of  the  Elector  of  Saxony,  was  printed 
at  Leipzig  in  1610,  with  the  following  title : — 

"  4.  Hodeporicon  India?  Orientalis ;  das  ist,  Warhafftige 
Beschreibung  der  ansehlich  Lobwiirdigen  Reyss,  Welche 
der  Edel  gestreng  und  weiterfahrne  Bitter,  H.  Ludwig  di 
Barthema  von  Bononien  aus  Italia  biirtig,  Inn  die  Orienta- 
lische  und  Morgenlander,  Syrien,  beide  Arabien,  Persicn, 
nnd  Indien,  auch  in  Egypten  und  Ethyopien,  zu  Land  und 
Wasser  personlich  verrichtet :  Neben  eigentlicher  Vermel- 
dung  Vielerley  Wenderbahren  Sachen,  so  er  darinnen 
gcsehcn   und   erfahren,  Alss  da  seynd  manigfaltigc  sorten 


von  Thieren  unci  Gewachsen,Dessgleichcn  allerhand  Volcker 
sitteu,  Leben,  Polycey,  Glauben,  Ceremoinen  unci  gebrauch, 
sampt  anderer  seltzamen  denckwiirdigen  dingen,  daselbst  zu 
sehen  :  Und  endlich,  Was  er  fiir  angst,  noht  und  gefahr  in 
der  Heidenschafft  vieler  ort  aussgestanden  :  Alles  von  jhme 
H.Barthema  selber  inltalianischerSprach  schrifFtlich  verfasst 
und  nu  aus  dem  Original  mit  sonderm  fleiss  verdeutsclit : 
Mit  Kupferstiicken  artlich  geziert,  und  aufFs  new  in  Truck 
verfertiget :  Durch  Hieronymum  Megiserum.  Leipzig. 
1610.     8  ." 

This  edition  is  copiously  illustrated  with  maps  and 
plans  engraved  on  copper  by  H.  Gross.  A  copy  is 
in  the  British  Museum. 

Ternaux  Compans  has  inserted  in  his  Bibliotheque 
the  title  of  an  edition  of  Megeserus's  translation, 
printed  at  Augsburg  in  4°  in  1608.  This  date  may 
be  correct,  as  the  preface  to  the  edition  of  1610  is 
dated  1  October  1607.  He  also  mentions  an  edition 
printed  at  Francfort  by  H.  Gulferichen  in  1548.  An 
edition  was  also  printed  at  Leipzig  in  1615. 


The  first  edition  of  the  Spanish  translation  was 
printed  in  1520,  and  the  translator,  Christoval  de 
Arcos,  informs  us  that  he  made  it  from  the  Latin 
version,  because  he  could  not  procure  the  Italian. 
He  recommends  those  who  doubt  the  truth  of  Var- 
thema's  relation  to  go  and  see  for  themselves  ;  and  to 
those  who  may  find  fault  with  his  translation,  he  ex- 
cuses himself  on  account  of  the  obscurity  of  the  Latin 
from  which  it  was  made.     The  title  is : — 

Itinerario  del  venerable   varon   micer   Luis    patricio   ro- 


mano  :  en  el  qual  cueta  mucha  parte  de  la  ethiopia  Egipto  : 
y  entrabas  Arabias :  Siria  y  la  India.  Buelto  de  latin  en 
romance  por  Christoual  de  arcos  clerigo.  Nuncia  hasta 
aqui  impresso  en  lengua  castellana. 

Colophon.  Fue  impressa  la  presente  obra  enla  muy 
noble  y  leal  cuidad  Scuillapor  Jacobo  croberger  aleman. 
Enel  aiio  dcla  encarnaciom  del  seiior  de  Mill  y  quincentos  y 
veynte.     Fol. 

This  edition  consists  of  fifty-four  numbered  leaves 
(from  ii  to  lv),  besides  the  title,  and  also  the  colo- 
phon, which  is  printed  on  a  separate  leaf.  The  book 
is  printed  in  double  columns.    Signatures  a  iii  to  g  v. 

A  copy  of  this  edition  is  in  the  Grenville  Library. 
Brunet  states  that  this  translation  was  reprinted  at 
Seville  in  1523  and  1576  in  folio,  and  Ternaux  Com- 
pans  mentions  an  edition  printed  at  Seville  in  1570. 


No  separate  translation  into  French  has  been  pub- 
lished of  this  work,  but  a  French  translation  is 
printed  in  the  "  Description  de  l'Afrique,  tierce  partie 
du  monde  contenant  ses  royaumes,  regions,  viles,  cites, 
chateaux  et  forteresses :  iles,  fluves,  animaux  tant 
aquatiques  que  terrestres,  &c.  Escrite  de  notre  terns 
par  Jean  Leon,  Africain."  Tome  second:  "Conte- 
nant les  Navigations  des  capitaines  Portugalois  et 
autres  faites  audit  pais,  jusques  aux  Indes,  tant 
orientales  que  Occidentals,  parties  de  Perse,  Arabie 
Heureuse,  pierreuse  et  deserte.  .  .  .  L'assiette  desdits 
pais,  iles,  royaumes  et  empires  :  Les  figures,  habits, 
religion  et  facon  de  faire  des  habitans  et  autres  sin- 
gularites  cy  devant  incogneues."    Lyons,  1556.     Fol. 



The  Novns  Orbis  of  Grynaeus  was  again  translated, 
and  this  time  into  Dutch  by  Cornells  Ablijn,  and 
printed  at  Antwerp  in  1563  in  folio.  The  translator 
addresses  his  work  to  William  Prince  of  Orange,  and, 
speaking  of  the  original,  announces  his  own  labours 
in  the  following  words  : — 

"  Dwelek  ich  Cornells  Ablijn  openbaer  notarius  resi- 
derende  inder  vermaerder  coopstadt  van  Antwcrpen.  door 
bede  van  sommige  vrienden  wt  dcr  Hoochduytscher  in  deser 
Nederduytscher  oft  Brabantsche  taelen  getranslateert  ende 
oveghesedt  hebbe." 

This  translation,  therefore,  is  further  removed  from 
the  original  than  any  of  the  others.  The  privilege  is 
dated  1561. 

De  uytnemende  en  seer  wonderlijcke  zee-en-Landt-Reyse 
vande  Heer  Ludowyck  di  Barthema,  van  Bononien,  Bidder, 
&c.,  gedaen  Inde  Morgenlanden,  Syrien,  Vrughtbaer  en 
woest  Arabien,  Perssen,  Indien,  Egypten,  Ethiopien,  en 
andere.  Uyt  bet  Italiens  in  Hoogh-duyts  vertaelt  door 
Hieronymum  Megiserium,  Cheur-Saxsens  History  schrijver. 
En  vyt  den  selven  nu  eerstmael  in't  nederdcuyts  gebracht 
door.     F.  S.     Tot  Utrecht,  1654.     4°. 

A  copy  of  this  edition  is  in  the  British  Museum. 

Meusel,  "  Bibliotlieca  Historica,"  vol.  2,  pt.  1, 
p.  340,  says  that  the  German  translation  of  Megiserus 
was  translated  into  Dutch,  and  printed  at  Utrecht  in 
1615  in  4°;  and  Ternaux  Compans  inserts  in  the 
"  Bibliotheque"  the  title  of  another  edition  printed  at 
Utrecht  in  4°  by  W.  Snellaert  in  1655. 



In  1577  Richard  Eden  published,  a  collection  of 
voyages  and  travels  in  4°,  which  he  entitled  "  The 
History  of  Travayle  in  the  West  and  East  Indies," 
&c,  in  which  he  included  the  Itinerary  of  Varthema 
with  the  following  title  : — 

"  The  navigation  and  vyages  of  Lewes  Vertom annus, 
Gentleman,  of  the  citie  of  Rome,  to  the  regions  of  Arabia, 
Egypte,  Persia,  Syria,  Ethiopia,  and  East  India,  both  within 
and  without  the  ryver  of  Ganges,  etc.  In  the  yeere  of  our 
Lorde  1503  :  conteynyng  many  notable  and  straunge  thinges, 
both  hystoricall  and  naturall.  Translated  out  of  Latine 
into  Englyshe  by  Richarde  Eden.  In  the  yeare  of  our  Lord 

A  short  extract,  greatly  abridged,  from  Varthema's 
work,  is  also  inserted  in  "  Purchas  his  Pilgrimage." 
London,  1625-6.     Fob 

J.    Winter   Jones. 
Dec.  10,  1863. 



Who  was  Ludovico  di  Varthema  1  Unfortunately, 
scarcely  any  record  of  him  is  forthcoming  except 
what  he  tells  us  himself.  I  have  searched  every 
available  repository  of  such  information,  to  learn 
something  of  his  antecedents,  and  have  searched  in 
vain.  Zedler  finds  no  place  for  him  in  his  Universal 
Lexicon  ;  our  own  Biographical  Collections  pass  him 
over  ;  and  all  that  the  French  have  to  say  is  this  : — 
"  Varlomanas,  gentilhomme  Bolonais,  et  patrice  Ro- 
main,  fut  un  voyageur  celebre  clans  le  xvie  siecle.  II 
est  presque  inconnu  dans  le  notre,  parce  que  l'abbe 
Prevost,  et  ceux  qui  ont  ecrit  l'histoire  des  voyages, 
ont  neglige  de  parler  du  sien,  quoiqu'il  soit  un  des 
plus  importants  pour  l'histoire  de  la  geographie,  et 
pour  Thistoire  en  general."1  I  had  hoped  to  glean 
some  stray  notices  of  him  in  the  writings  of  his  own 
countrymen  ;  but  they  are  as  barren  of  what  we  wish 
to  know  as  the  rest.  Zurla2  does  not  even  mention 
him  in  his  Dissertation  on  the  most  illustrious  Italian 

1  Biographie  Universelle,  Ancienne  et  Moderne,  Paris,  1827. 

2  Di  Marco   Polo  e  elegit  altri  Viaggiatori  piu  illustri,  Disser- 
tazione  da  P.  Ab.  D.  Placido  Zurla,  2  vols.     Venezia,  1818. 



travellers  ;  and  Fantuzzi,  the  only  Italian  historian 
who  devotes  more  than  a  few  lines  to  him,  begins  his 
article  on  "  Lodovico  Bartema"  with  an  admission 
which  I  have  been  obliged  to  imitate,  and  ends  it  by 
erroneously  stating  that  our  author's  Itinerary  was 
first  published  at  Venice,  and  by  hazarding  a  doubt 
respecting  his  return  to  Italy, — a  fact  which  is  plainly 
stated  at  the  conclusion  of  his  narrative.  Fantuzzi's 
notice  is  as  follows : — "  Of  this  person,  we  know 
nothing  beyond  what  the  Co.  Valerio  Zani  has  written 
in  the  Preface  to  the  Genio  Vagante,  torn.  i.  p.  32, 
viz.,  that  Lodovico  Bartema,  a  Bolognese  by  birth, 
flourished  in  the  sixteenth  century, — that  he  left 
Bologna  for  Venice,  from  whence  he  crossed  over 
into  Asia,  and  arrived  first  at  Alexandria,"  etc. 
"  This  is  all  we  learn  from  the  Co.  Valerio  Zani  in 
the  abovenamed  Preface,  subsequent  to  which  we 
possess  no  information  about  Lodovico  Bartema ; 
hence,  we  do  not  know  whether  he  returned  to  Italy, 
or  where  he  died,  except  that,  inasmuch  as  his  Itine- 
rary was  printed  for  the  first  time  in  Venice,  we  are 
led  to  believe"  that  he  did  return  thither ;  for  it  is 
not  easy  to  suppose  that  he  sent  his  manuscripts  from 
Portugal  to  be  printed  in  Italy,  which  they  appear  to 
have  been  during  his  lifetime."1 

1  The  following  is  appended  to  the  foregoing  extract  in  a  foot- 
note : — "  This  writer's  name  is  spelt  in  different  ways.  In  his 
Itinerary  comprised  in  the  edition  of  Ramusio,  by  Ferdinando 
Leopoldo  del  Migliore  in  the  Firenze  Illustrata,  p.  310,  and  in 
P.  D.  Abondio  Collina's  Dissertation  De  acus  naufica  inventore, 
contained  in  the  Commentary  delV  Accadem.  dell'  Instituto,  torn.  ii. 


This  is  very  unsatisfactory,  and  the  deficiency  is  not 
supplied  by  any  incidental  allusions  in  the  author's 
dedicatory  epistle.  Agnesina,  the  illustrious  lady  to 
whom  he  dedicates  his  Itinerary,  was  the  fourth 
daughter  of  Federico  di  Montefeltro,  Count  and 
second  Duke  of  Urbino,  by  his  second  wife  Battista 
Sforza,  and  was  married  in  1474  to  Fabrizio  Colonna, 
Lord  of  Marino,  Duke  of  Albi  and  Tagliacozza.  Of 
the  lady  Agnesina,  Dennistoun  says:  "  She  inherited 
the  talents  and  literary  tastes  which  had  descended 
to  her  mother,  and  transmitted  them  to  a  still  more 
gifted  daughter,  the  illustrious  Vittoria  Colonna, 
Marchioness    of   Pescara."1       Her    brother,    whose 

part  iii.  p.  382,  he  is  called  Lodovico  Bartema  ;  but  in  the  title- 
page  of  the  edition  of  the  said  Itinerary,  from  the  edition  of  1535, 
of  Bumaldi,  in  the  Biblioth.  Bonon.,  p.  158,  of  Orlandi's  Notizia 
degli  Scritt.  Bologn.,  he  is  styled  Lodovico  Vartema.  This  is 
noticed  by  the  Co.  Mazzuchelli ;  but  it  must  be  borne  in  mind,  that 
the  permutation  of  the  letters  B  and  V,  in  pronunciation,  is  very 
common  with  the  Portuguese  and  Spaniards,  as  has  been  the  case, 
moreover,  among  almost  all  nations  in  almost  every  age.  So,  like- 
wise, the  ancient  Florentines  used  to  say  Voce  and  Boce,  Voto  and 
Buto,  and  so  forth.  By  Konig,  in  the  Biblioth.  Vctus  et  Nova,  p. 
831,  he  is  called  Lodovicus  Vartomannus,  alias  Varthema.  Doni, 
in  bis  Libreria,  p.  33,  styles  him  merely  Lodovico  Bolognese;  and 
Simlero,  in  his  Epit.  Biblioth.  Gesneri,  p.  121,  has  Lodovico  da 
Bologna.  Besides  Mazzuchelli,  who  speaks  of  him  in  his  Scrittori 
(V Italia,  he  is  also  mentioned  by  Sig.  Ab.  Tiraboschi,  in  his  Storia 
delta  Letter,  d 'Italia,  torn.  vii.  part  i.  p.  211."  Fanttjzzi's  Notizie 
degli  Scrittori  Bolognesi,  Bologna,  1781. 

1  Memoirs  of  the  Dukes  of  Urbino,  vol  i.  p.  277.  Writing  of 
Battista,  Agnesina's  mother,  the  same  author  remarks: — "She 
was  a  remarkable  instance  of  the  transmission  of  talent  by  female 
descent.   Her  great  grandmother,  Battista  di  Montefeltro  [daughter 



genius  and  acquirements  are  justly  eulogized  by 
Varthema,  was  Guidobaldo,  who  succeeded  to  the 
dukedom  on  the  death  of  his  father  in  1482,  and  died 
on  the  11th  of  April  1508.  As  he  appears  to  have 
been  living  at  the  time  the  Dedication  was  written, 
it  must  have  been  prepared  immediately  after  the 
author's  return  to  Italy.1 

of  Count  Antonio  di  Montefeltro,]  was  conspicuous  among  the 
ladies  of  high  birth,  whose  acquirements  gave  illustration  to  her 
age.  By  cotemporary  authors,  her  talents  and  endowments  are 
spoken  of  in  most  flattering  terms,  whilst  her  character  is  cele- 
brated for  piety  and  justice,  benignity  and  tranquillity.  Though 
married  to  a  man  of  miserable  character,  she  had  a  daughter, 
Elisabetta  Malatesta,  who  inherited  her  misfortunes  as  well  as  her 
genius.  Elisabetta's  daughter  was  Costanza  Varana,  the  associate 
of  scholars  and  philosophers,  whose  gifts  she  is  said  to  have 
rivalled,  notwithstanding  an  early  death  that  deprived  her  infant 
Battista  of  a  mother's  care."  The  latter,  the  mother  of  Agnesina, 
displayed  remarkable  talents  while  yet  a  child,  and  subsequently 
made  rapid  acquisition  of  solid  knowledge.  She  was  married  to 
Count  Federigo,  Duke  of  Urbino,  in  1459.  (See  Id.,  pp.  206-7.) 
According  to  Litta,  the  lady  Agnesina  died  in  1522,  while  return- 
ing from  a  visit  to  the  Sanctuary  at  Loreto.  Her  brother  Guildo- 
baldo  having  been  deprived  of  the  dukedom  by  Leo  X.,  her  son 
Ascanio  Colonna,  Duke  of  Palliano,  was  subsequently  invested 
with  that  dignity  by  Clement  VII.  ;  but  the  bull  of  the  former  pope 
not  having  been  carried  into  effect,  he  never  succeeded  to  Urbino. 
See  Litta,  Famiglie  Celebri  Italiani,  torn.  ii.  tavola  vii. 

1  I  am  inclined  to  think,  indeed,  that  the  Dedication  may  have 
been  intentionally  antedated,  otherwise  Varthema  must  have  had 
an  extraordinary  quick  passage  from  India  ;  for  as  he  left  Can- 
nanore  on  the  6th  December  1507,  stayed  fifteen  days  at  Mozam- 
bique and  two  at  the  Azores,  there  only  remain  three  months  and 
eighteen  days  for  the  homeward  voyage,  and  for  the  preliminaries 
connected  with  the  preparation  of  his  book,   or   at  least  of  the 


One  would  have  thought  that  Ramusio  might  have 
picked  up  some  information  respecting  the  early  life 
and  subsequent  career  of  our  author  ;  but  his  "  Dis- 
corso  Breve"  to  Varthema's  book  is  briefer  than 
many  of  the  notices  prefixed  to  other  far  less  im- 
portant Voyages  and  Travels  contained  in  his  valu- 
able Collection.  Moreover,  it  is  clear  that  the  first 
authorized  edition  of  the  Itinerary,  printed  at  Rome 
in  1510,  was  either  unknown  to  him  or  beyond  his 
reach ;  since  he  tells  us  that  his  revised  exemplar 
was  prepared  from  a  Spanish  version  made  from  the 
Latin  translation, — a  third  hand  process,  which  ac- 
counts for  the  many  variations  existing  between  his 
copy  and  the  original  Italian  edition.  The  following 
is  all  that  he  says : — 

"  This  Itinerary  of  Lodovico  Barthema.  a  Bolognese, 
wherein  the  things  concerning  India  and  the  Spice  Islands 
are  so  full g  and  so  correctly  narrated  as  to  transcend  all  that 
has  been  written  either  by  ancient  or  modern  authors,  has 
hitherto  been  read  replete  with  errors  and  inaccuracies,  and 
might  hare  been  so  read  in  future,  had  not  God  caused  to  be 
put  into  our  hands  the  book  of  Chrisfoforo  di  Arco,  a  clerk 
of  Seville,  who,  being  in  possession  of  the  Latin  exemplar  of 
that  Voyage,  made  from  the  original  itself,  and  dedicated  to 
the  Most  Reverend  Monsignor  Bernardino,  Cardinal  Car- 
vaial  of  the  Santa  Croce,  translated  it  with  great  care  into 
the  Spanish  language,  by  the  aid  of  which  toe  have  been 
enabled  to  correct  in  many  places  the  present  book,  which  ivas 
originally  loritten  by  the  author  himself  in  our  own  vulgar 
tongue,    a?id   dedicated   to    the   3Iost    Illustrious    Madonna 

dedicatory  epistle,  up  to  the  death  of  Duke  Guidobaldo,  which, 
according  to  Dennistoun,  occurred  on  the  11th  of  April  1508. 


Agnesina,  one  of  the  internment  and  excellent  women  of 
Italy  at  that  period.  She  was  the  daughter  of  the  Most  Il- 
lustrious Si y nor  Fcderico,  Duke  of  TJrbino,  and  sister  of  the 
Most  Excellent  Guidobaldo,  wife  of  the  Most  Illustrious 
Signor  Fabricio  Colonna,  and  mother  of  the  Most  Excellent 
Signor  Ascanio  Colonna  and  of  the  lady  Vittoria,  Marchio- 
ness Dal  Guasto,  the  ornament  and  light  of  the  present  age. 
And  the  aforesaid  Lodovico  divided  this  volume  into  seven 
Books,  in  the  First  of  tchich  he  narrates  his  journey  to 
Egypt,  Syria,  and  Arabia  Deserla.  In  the  Second,  he  treats 
of  Arabia  Felix.  In  the  Third,  of  Persia.  In  the  Fourth, 
Fifth,  and  Sixth,  he  comprises  all  India  and  the  Molucca 
Islands,  where  the  spices  groiv.  In  the  Seventh  and  last,  he 
recounts  his  return  to  Portugal,  passing  along  the  coast  of 
Ethiopia,  the  Cape  of  Good  Hope,  and  several  islands  of  the 
Western  Ocean" 

In  this  dearth  of  all  external  aids,  we  are  obliged 
to  have  recourse  to  the  narrative  itself;  but  even 
there,  the  materials  for  constructing  a  biographical 
sketch  of  its  author  are  scanty  in  the  extreme.  He 
tells  us  on  one  occasion  (p.  263),  that  his  father  was 
a  physician  ;  but  as  he  was  acting  a  part  when  that 
statement  was-  made,  little  reliance  can  be  placed 
upon  it.  On  another,  he  claimed  a  knowledge  of 
casting  artillery  (p.  50)  ;  and  although  the  circum- 
stances under  which  the  pretension  was  advanced  are 
calculated  to  throw  a  doubt  on  its  truth,  it  is  not  im- 
probable that  Varthema  had  been  brought  up  to  the 
profession  of  arms,  or  had  at  some  antecedent  period 
served  as  a  soldier,  since  he  incidentally  remarks,  in 
a  subsequent  chapter,  (p.  280),  that  he  had  been  pre- 
sent at  several  battles  in  his  time.     This  conjecture  is 


further  supported  by  the  particular  attention  which 
he  pays  to  the  military  organization  and  peculiar 
weapons  of  the  different  people  described  in  the 
course  of  his  narrative.  The  only  additional  intima- 
tion which  he  lets  drop  of  his  private  history  gives 
us  to  understand  that  he  was  a  married  man,  and  was 
the  father  of  several  children  (p.  259). 

The  motives  which  led  him  to  undertake  this 
journey  are  briefly  set  forth  in  the  dedication  of  his 
Itinerary.  He  had  an  insatiable  desire  of  becoming 
acquainted  with  foreign  countries,  not  unmixed  with 
ambition  for  the  renown  which  had  been  awarded 
to  preceding  geographers  and  travellers ;  but  being 
conscious,  withal,  of  his  inaptitude  to  attain  that 
object  by  reading,  "  knowing  himself  to  be  of  very 
slender  understanding"  and  disinclined  to  study,  he 
"  determined,  personally,  and  with  his  own  eyes,  to 
endeavour  to  ascertain  the  situations  of  places,  the 
qualities  of  peoples,  the  diversities  of  animals,  the 
varieties  of  the  fruit-bearing  and  odoriferous  trees  of 
Egypt,  Syria,  Arabia  Deserta  and  Felix,  Persia, 
India,  and  Ethiopia,  remembering  well  that  the  testi- 
mony of  one  eye-witness  is  worth  more  than  ten 
thousand  hearsays."  His  surprising  travels  in  search 
of  this  knowledge  are  recorded  in  the  accompanying- 
narrative  with  an  ingenuousness  and  honesty,  and  his 
personal  adventures  with  a  ready  wit  and  humour, 
which  do  credit  to  his  head  and  heart ;  the  remark- 
able success  of  his  book  is  attested  by  the  successive 
editions  which  were  called  for  in  the  course  of  a  few 
years  after  its  first   publication,  and  its   translation 


into  several  European  languages  ;  but  what  reward 
was  reaped  by  the  enterprising  traveller  himself,  be- 
yond the  barren  honour  of  knighthood  conferred  upon 
him  by  Don  Francisco  de  Almeyda  after  the  battle 
of  Ponani,  and  subsequently  confirmed  by  Don 
Emanuel  of  Portugal,  we  have  no  means  of  ascer- 
taining. As  far  as  we  know,  the  copyright  of  his 
Itinerary,  secured  to  himself  and  to  his  heirs  for  ten 
years,  officially  granted  at  the  special  mandate  of 
Pope  Julius  II.,  by  the  Cardinal  Chamberlain  of  the 
Court  of  Rome,  as  appears  from  the  document  at- 
tached to  the  first  edition  of  1510,  was  the  only 
recompense  bestowed  upon  him  by  his  admiring  but 
parsimonious  countrymen. 

Turning  from  the  author  to  the  author's  book,  I 
do  not  see  how  I  can  better  introduce  it  than  bv 
rapidly  leading  the  reader  over  the  route  pursued, 
halting  here  and  there  to  illustrate  the  traveller's 
journeyings  by  brief  sketches  of  the  history  of  the 
countries  visited,  and  the  different  people  with  whom 
he  came  in  contact.  The  antecedent  investigations 
of  Dr.  Vincent  and  Dr.  Robertson,  and  the  very 
recent  researches  of  Mr.  R.  H.  Major,  who  in  his 
able  Introduction  to  India  in  the  Fifteenth  Century  has 
done  much  towards  exhausting  the  subject  of  the 
ancient  intercourse  with  India  prior  to  the  discovery 
of  the  route  via  the  Cape  of  Good  Hope,  must  be  my 
excuse  for  not  venturing  to  supplement  their  learned 
essays  in  that  line, — a  task,  moreover,  for  which  I 
am  utterly  unqualified.  With  this  candid  admission, 
1  shall  now  pass  on  to  the  narrative  under  review. 


Varthema  appears  to  have  left  Europe  towards  the 
end  of  1502,  and  reached  Alexandria  about  the 
beginning  of  the  following  year,  from  whence  he 
proceeded  by  the  Nile  to  Cairo.  In  his  brief  re- 
marks on  that  city,  he  corrects  the  exaggerated  idea 
of  its  extent  which  seems  to  have  prevailed  in  the 
West  even  after  his  time ;  for  we  find  Giovan  Leoni 
Africano  enumerating  it  as  "  une  delle  maggiore  e 
mirabili  citta  che  siano  nel  mondo."1  His  summary 
account  of  the  people  and  government  is  surprisingly 
accurate  : — "  The  inhabitants  are  Moors  [Arabs]  and 
Mamluks.  The  lord  over  them  is  the  Grand  Sultan, 
who  is  served  by  the  Mamluks,  and  the  Mamluks 
are  lords  over  the  Moors."  Egypt,  at  the  time,  was 
governed  by  the  Borjeeh  Mamliik  Sultan,  El-Ashraf 
Kansooh  el-Ghon,  whose  territories  comprised  Syria 
as  far  as  the  Taurus  in  Cilicia  on  the  north,  and  the 
Euphrates  on  the  east.  Already,  the  Turks  under 
Bayazid  II.  had  attempted  to  wrest  Egypt  from  the 
hands  of  the  Mamluks  ;  but  their  invasion  in  1490 
resulted  in  nothing  beyond  the  annexation  of  Tarsus 
and  Adana.  It  remained  for  Bayazid's  second  son, 
Selim  L,  surnamed  El-Yauz,  about  thirty  years  later, 
to  put  an  end  to  a  military  dynasty  which  for  up- 
wards of  two  centuries  and  a  half  had  usurped  the 
authority  of  the  'Abbaside  Khalifs,  whose  representa- 
tive in  the  person  of  El-Mustansik  bTllah  must  have 
been  residing  in  Egypt,  in  comparative  obscurity,  at 
the  period  of  our  author's  visit. 

From  Egypt  Varthema  sailed  to  Syria,  landed  at 

1  Hamusio,  vol.  i.  p.  83. 


Beyroot,  and  travelled  by  Tripoli  to  Aleppo.  He 
notices  the  concourse  of  Persians  and  other  foreigners 
at  the  latter  place,  which,  until  the  route  via  the 
Cape  of  Good  Hope  became  the  great  highway  to 
and  from  India,  was  one  of  the  principal  stations  of 
the  overland  transit  trade  between  the  Mediterranean 
on  the  one  side,  and  Persia  and  the  Persian  Gulf  on 
the  other.  Passing  through  Hamah,  the  Hamath  of 
Scripture,  and  Menin  in  the  vicinity  of  Helbon,  still 
famous  for  the  quality  of  its  grapes,  he  arrived  at 
Damascus,  where  he  appears  to  have  sojourned 
several  wTeeks,  and  to  have  made  good  use  of  his 
time  in  acquiring  some  knowledge  of  colloquial 
Arabic.  Here,  he  became  acquainted  with  the  Mam- 
luks  of  the  garrison,  and  by  means  of  money,  accord- 
ing to  his  own  statement,  induced  a  captain  of  that 
body,  who  was  a  renegade  Christian,  to  attach  him 
to  a  company  under  his  command ;  but  he  cautiously 
reserves,  what  is  highly  probable,  that  a  profession  of 
Islamism  was  exacted  as  a  necessary  condition  of  his 
enrolment  among  the  Mamliiks.  Whether  on  assum- 
ing the  new  name  of  Yiinas,  (Jonah,)  he  underwent 
any  more  special  initiation  than  that  of  repeating  the 
simple  formula,  "  There  is  no  god  but  the  God,  and 
Muhammed  is  His  Apostle,"  does  not  transpire  ;  but 
the  sequel  of  his  narrative  proves,  that  he  had  been 
tolerably  well  instructed  in  the  outward  ceremonies 
of  Islam,  and  by  practice,  combined  with  an  inquir- 
ing disposition,  and  a  great  facility  in  adapting  him- 
self to  circumstances,  eventually  attained  as  correct 
an  insight  into  the  doctrines  of  the  Koran  as  is  pos- 
sessed by  the  generality  of  Mussulmans. 


This  is  not  the  place  to  discuss  the  morality  of  an 
act,  involving  the  deliberate  and  voluntary  denial  of 
what  a  man  holds  to  be  the  Truth  in  a  matter  so 
sacred  as  that  of  Religion.  Such  a  violation  of  con- 
science is  not  justifiable  by  the  end  which  the  rene- 
gade may  have  in  view,  however  abstractedly  praise- 
worthy it  may  be  ;  and  even  granting  that  his  demerit 
should  be  gauged  by  the  amount  of  knowledge  which 
he  possesses  of  what  is  true  and  what  false,  the  con- 
clusion is  inevitable,  that  nothing  short  of  utter  igno- 
rance of  the  precepts  of  his  faith,  or  a  conscientious 
disbelief  in  them,  can  fairly  relieve  the  Christian,  who 
conforms  to  Islamism  without  a  corresponding  per- 
suasion of  its  verity,  of  the  deserved  odium  which  all 
honest  men  attach  to  apostasy  and  hypocrisy. 

Forming  one  of  the  Mamliik  escort  of  the  Hajj 
Caravan,  Varthema  set  out  from  Damascus  on  the  8th 
of  April  1503  on  the  march  towards  El-Medinah. 
Among  the  few  Europeans  who  have  recorded  their 
visits  to  the  Holy  Places  of  the  Mussulmans,  he  is 
still  the  only  one  who  has  succeeded  in  reaching 
them  by  that  route.  Joseph  Pitts  of  Exeter  in  a.d. 
1680,  Ali  Bey  in  1807,  Giovanni  Finati  in  1811, 
Burckhardt  in  1814,  and  Burton  in  1853,  all  pene- 
trated into  the  Hijaz  and  returned  therefrom  by  the 
lied  Sea.  In  this  respect,  therefore,  our  author's 
narrative  is  unique ;  nevertheless,  we  have  the  means 
of  testing  its  authenticity  by  the  Hajj  Itinerary  from 
Damascus  compiled  with  so  much  care  by  Burck- 
hardt. This  has  been  attempted  in  the  annotations 
on  the  text  of  the  present  edition,  and  the  result  is 


alike  confirmatory  of  Varthema's  intelligence  and 
accuracy.  A  journey  of  thirty  days  through  a  desert, 
which  Sir  John  Maundeville  and  other  travellers  long 
after  him  would  have  filled  with  images  of  their  own 
marvellous  imaginations,  is  recounted  in  the  sober 
colouring  of  a  tourist  of  our  own  times,  enlivened 
ever  and  anon  with  vivid  sketches  of  the  wild  country 
and  tribes  through  which  the  Caravan  wended  its  soli- 
tary way.  His  description  of  the  Bedawin,  of  their 
marauding  incursions  and  mode  of  warfare,  is  mi- 
nutely correct,  and  the  picture  which  he  portrays 
of  an  Arab  encampment  is  as  true  to  life  now  as  it 
was  three  centuries  and  a  half  ago. 

Among  the  most  interesting  incidents  contained 
in  this  portion  of  Varthema's  peregrinations  is  the 
Caravan  halt  near  "  a  mountain  inhabited  by  Jews," 
within  three  days'  march  of  El-Medinah.  The  stature 
of  these  people,  which  he  limits  to  two  feet  in  height, 
wras  either  taken  on  trust  from  his  Muhammedan 
companions,  or  estimated  irrespective  of  the  distance 
at  which  he  saw  them  ;  but  tinged  with  borrowed 
fable  as  this  part  of  his  narrative  undoubtedly  is,  the 
existence  of  a  Jewish  colony  in  that  locality  for  ages 
anterior  to  his  time  is  a  w7ell  authenticated  fact, 
though  every  trace  of  them,  beyond  an  unfounded 
rumour  that  their  descendants  still  existed  there, 
performing  in  secret  all  the  ceremonies  of  their  reli- 
gion, had  disappeared  when  Burckhardt  visited  the 
Hijaz.  Arabian  authors  refer  the  foundation  of  the 
settlement  to  different  periods  extending  as  far  back 
as  the  days  of  Moses ;  but  the  most  probable  account 


is  that  their  first  immigration  occurred  after  the 
devastation  of  Juclea  by  the  armies  of  Nebuchad- 
nezzar, and  that  the  colony  was  enlarged  by  succes- 
sive bands  of  refugees  in  after  times  down  to  the 
destruction  of  Jerusalem  by  Titus,  and  the  persecu- 
tions to  which  they  were  subjected  under  the  Em- 
peror Adrian. 

On  entering  El-Medinah,  "  wishing  to  see  every 
thing,"  our  traveller's  party  engaged  the  services  of 
a  Muzmvivir,  or  guide,  whose  duty  it  doubtless  was 
then,  as  it  is  still,  to  instruct  the  pilgrims  in  the  ap- 
pointed ceremonies  of  the  Ilajj,  as  well  as  to  accom- 
pany them  in  the  character  of  ordinary  ciceroni.  The 
principal  object  of  interest  here  was  the  tomb  of 
Muhammed,  and  with  one  or  two  minor  exceptions, 
attributable  probably  to  his  imperfect  knowledge  of 
Arabic,  our  author's  detailed  description  of  the  inte- 
rior and  exterior  of  the  Mosque  is  strikingly  verified 
by  the  later  accounts  of  it  as  given  by  Burckhardt 
and  Burton.  He  takes  occasion,  moreover,  in  the 
course  of  his  observations,  to  correct  the  absurd 
notion,  which  prevailed  extensively  in  those  days, 
that  the  Prophet's  coffin  was  made  of  metal,  and 
hung  in  mid  air  by  the  attraction  of  a  powerful 

Another  superstition  which  the  party  ventured  to 
question  on  the  spot,  was  the  supernatural  light 
which  the  more  credulous  Moslems  believe  to  issue 
from  the  sepulchre  of  their  Prophet,  as  firmly  as 
pious  Christians  of  the  Greek  rite  believe  in  the  fable 
of  the  Holy  Fire  as  it  is  manufactured  at  Jerusalem. 

3JTY    1 


The  discussion  which  took  place  on  this  subject 
between  the  Captain  of  the  Mamluks  and  certain 
Sherifs  of  the  Mosque  reveals  the  renegade's  general 
disbelief  in  Muhammedanism  ;  though  it  may  well  be 
doubted  whether  such  an  unreserved  manifestation 
of  it  could  have  been  attempted  with  impunity  ex- 
cept by  a  person  in  his  position. 

The  character  of  the  townspeople,  which  is  pro- 
verbially bad,  elicits  from  Varthema  the  epithet  of 
"  canaglia,"  and  expressing  equal  disgust  at  "  the 
vanities  of  Muhammed,"  which  form  the  staple  at- 
tractions to  the  pilgrim  visitors  at  El-Medinah,  or 
The  City,  par  excellence,  he  resumes  his  onward  jour- 
ney towards  Meccah,  which  was  accomplished  in  ten 
days.  The  intervening  country  appears  to  have  been 
in.  a  very  unsettled  state,  for  he  records  two  skir- 
mishes with  large  bands  of  Arabs,  and  ascribes  the 
cause  to  the  prevalence  of  a  great  war  between 
four  brothers  who  were  fighting  for  the  lordship  of 
Meccah.  In  a  subsequent  chapter,  whilst  describing 
Juddah,  he  mentions  incidentally  that  the  govern- 
ment of  that  town  was  administered  by  one  of  the 
brothers  of  "  Barachet,"  who  was  then  the  ruling 
"  Sultan  of  Meccah." 

By  the  latter  designation,  we  are  undoubtedly  to 
understand  the  "  Sherif,"  which  title,  as  applied  to 
the  Arab  ruler  of  Meccah,  has  entirely  superseded 
the  more  ancient  one  of  "  Amir."  The  particular 
family  from  which  candidates  for  that  dignity  were 
elected  claim,  in  common  with  several  others  which 
assume   the  same  honourable  distinction,  to  be  the 


descendants  of  Hasan,  the  eldest  son  of  'Ali,  through 
his  two  sons  Zaid  and  Hasan  el-Musanna ;  but  the 
first  historical  notice  which  we  possess  of  their  terri- 
torial jurisdiction  in  the  Hijaz,  is  given  by  Ibn  Shub- 
nah,  during  the  reign  of  the  Ayyubite  princes  in 
Yemen,  who  records  that  in  his  time  El-Medinah 
and  Meccah  were  severally  governed  by  two  mem- 
bers of  that  family,  each  bearing  the  title  of  "Amir."1 
Although  exercising  almost  sovereign  power  within 
the  limits  assigned  to  them,  the  Sherifs  were  avowedly 
subordinate  to  the  successive  Khalifs  of  the  Omeyya 
and  'Abbaside  dynasties,  and  subsequently  to  the 
Mamliik  Sultans  of  Egypt,  whose  prerogative  it  was 
to  recognize  their  authority  by  investing  them  annu- 
ally with  a  robe  of  honour.  This  suzerainty,  in  his 
time,  is  casually  adverted  to  by  Varthema,  who 
speaks  of  the  lord  of  Juddah  and  the  Sultan  of 
Meccah  as  being  "  subject  to  the  Grand  Sultan  of 

But  a  supremacy  which,  in  effect,  was  barely 
nominal,  seldom  availed  to  maintain  public  order  in 
the  Hijaz,  more  especially  whenever  rival  factions 
among  the  Sherifs  contended  for  the  chief  magistracy 
of  Meccah.  Such  family  feuds  were  of  constant 
occurrence,  and  one  was  actually  in  progress  at  the 
time  of  our  traveller's  visit,  and  his  incidental  re- 
marks on  the  subject  are  so  strikingly  corroborated 
by  native  historical  records,  as  to  merit  special  illus- 
tration. The  following  passages,  translated  from  the 
Kurrat  el-Ayun,  an  Arabic  manuscript  Chronicle  of 

1  See  D'Herbklox,  sub  voce  Meccah.    v 


Yemen,  besides  substantiating  the  statements  of  Var- 
thema,  afford  a  general  view  of  the  political  condi- 
tion of  the  Hijaz  at  the  period  referred  to : — 

"  a. ii.  906.  In  the  month  of  ZuF  Kaadah  of  this  year, 
[corresponding  with  parts  of  May  and  June,  a.d.  1500,]  a 
battle  took  place  between  the  Sherif  Haza'a  bin  Muhammed 
bin  Barakat  and  his  brother  Barakat  ibn  Muhammed,  the 
lord  of  the  Hijaz,  wherein  the  latter  was  overcome  and  put 
to  flight,  the  Egyptian  escort  seizing  all  his  property,  and 
depriving  him  of  everything.  The  cause  was  as  follows: — 
When  El-'Adil  Tuman  Bey,  lord  of  Egypt,  succeeded  El- 
Ashraf  Janblat,  he  expelled  an  amir  of  the  latter  named 
Kansooh  el-Mahmady,  known  as  El-Burj,  who  proceeded  to 
Meccah  ;  but  neither  the  Sherif  nor  the  Kaclhi,  nor  any  of 
the  nobles,  took  any  notice  of  him,  fearing  the  displeasure  of 
Tuman  Bey.  On  the  death,  of  Tuman  Bey,  he  was  succeeded 
by  El-Ashraf  Kansooh  el-Ghori,  who  forthwith  sent  a  letter 
to  El-Burj,  appointing  him  Niiib  of  Damascus.  Thereupon 
the  Sherif  went  to  pay  his  respects  to  him  ;  but  he  refused 
to  receive  him  on  account  of  his  former  conduct.  Haza'a 
being  then  at  Meccah,  Kansooh  el-Burj  instigated  him  to 
assume  the  government  of  Meccah,  and  to  place  his  brother 
Barakat  over  it  [as  his  subordinate.]  To  this  end  he  directed 
him  to  go  to  Yembo,  and  sent  word  to  the  Amir  of  the 
Egyptian  Ilajj  to  meet  him  there,  to  make  over  to  him  the 
imperial  firmans,  and  to  invest  him  with  the  imperial  robe. 
This  was  accordingly  done  ;  and  Haza'a  put  on  the  robe 
which  had  been  brought  for  his  brother  Barakat,  and  dressed 
his  brother  El- Jazani  in  the  clothes  which  he  himself  wore 
when  he  presided  with  his  brother  Barakat.  He  then  pro- 
ceeded with  the  Egyptian  caravan  towards  Meccah,  accom- 
panied by  about  one  hundred  of  the  Sherifs  of  the  Benu- 
Ibrahim.  On  hearing  this,  Barakat  went  out  as  far  as  the 
Wadi  Marka  to  meet  them,  when  a  battle  ensued  wherein 


Haza'a  was  routed  several  times,  about  thirty  of  his  followers 
were  killed,  and  some  parts  of  the  caravan  plundered.  The 
Egyptian  escort  then  charged  with  Haza'a,  whereupon  Bara- 
kat fled,  leaving  his  son  Abu'l-Kasam  and  several  of  his 
soldiers  dead  on  the  field.  After  this,  the  Egyptians  entered 
the  house  of  Barakat,  seized  all  he  had,  his  women  included, 
whom  they  also  plundered.  Barakat  took  refuge  in  Juddah, 
and  Haza'a  entered  Meccah  with  the  Egyptian  escort ;  but 
the  city  became  much  disturbed,  outrages  and  fear  increased 
on  the  roads,  and  the  pilgrims  who  had  come  by  sea  returned 
home  ;  consequently  the  Hajj  was  very  small,  and  the  Sherif 
Barakat  did  not  perform  it.  When  the  Hajj  was  over, 
Haza'a  reflected  that  the  cause  of  all  this  mischief  was  owimr 
to  his  contention  with  his  brother  Barakat ;  and  fearing  lest 
he  might  be  attacked  by  him  in  Meccah,  he  accompanied  the 
Damascus  caravan  to  Yembo,  whither  Barakat  pursued  him  ; 
but  the  escort  protected  Haza'a  against  him.  So  Barakat 
returned  to  Meccah,  and  peace  and  security  were  reesta- 
blished among  the  people  and  on  the  roads. 

"But  the  year  following  [a.d.  1501]  Haza'a  and  Barakat 
again  encountered  each  other  in  a  place  called  Taraf  el- 
Burka,  when  the  latter  was  overcome,  and  his  brother  Abu- 
Da'anaj,  with  seven  of  the  Sherifs  of  the  Benu-Nima,  toge- 
ther with  fourteen  of  the  Turks  on  his  side,  were  killed. 
On  this  occasion  Haza'a  had  with  him  three  thousand  two 
hundred  horsemen,  and  Barakat  only  five  hundred.  The 
latter  fled  till  he  reached  Salkhat  el-Ghorab,  and  Haza'a 
went  to  Juddah,  where  he  proclaimed  an  amnesty  to  the 
inhabitants,  and  appointed  Muhammed  ibn  Rajah  ibn  Sam- 
balali  his  deputy,  and  one  of  his  slaves  governor  in  Juddah, 
and  sent  his  brother,  El-Jazani,  to  Meccah,  to  settle  matters 
in  that  quarter,  whither  he  subsequently  followed  him  with 
a  military  force.  Some  time  after,  a  robe  of  investiture  and 
a  firman  were  sent  to  him  from  Egypt,  and  he  took  up  his 
residence  in  Meccah. 



"  On  the  fifteenth  of  the  month  of  Rajab,  [25th  December 
1501,]  Haza'a  ibn  Muhammed  ibn  Barak  at  was  removed  to 
the  mercy  of  God,  and  his  brother  El-Jazani  succeeded  him, 
through  the  influence  of  the  Kadhi  Abu  es-Sa'ud  ibn  Ibra- 
him ibn  Dhuheirah. 

"  a.h.  908.  In  the  month  of  Sha'aban  of  this  year  [cor- 
responding with  January  a.d.  1502]  there  was  a  fierce  battle 
between  the  Sherif  el-Jazani  and  his  brother  Barakat  at 
Munhenna,  to  the  eastward  of  Mcccah,  in  which  the  Sherif 
Barakat  was  thoroughly  routed,  and  all  the  principal  men  of 
his  armies  killed,  he  himself  escaping  with  only  a  few  adhe- 

"  In  the  month  of  Rajab  of  the  same  year  [December 
a.d.  1502]  the  Sherif  El-Jazani  ibn  Muhammed  ibn  Barakat 
was  killed  near  the  gate  of  the  Kaabah  by  a  band  of  Turks, 
on  account  of  some  outrages  which  he  had  committed,  and 
they  set  up  in  his  place  his  brother  Humeidhah.  Towards 
the  end  of  that  same  year  [between  March  and  May  1503] 
the  Sherif  Barakat  fled  from  Egypt  [by  which  it  would 
appear  that  he  had  been  taken  there  as  a  prisoner]  with  the 
connivance  of  the  Amir  ed-Duweidar,1  and  brought  with 
him  a  large  army,  which  he  collected  from  among  the  Beni 
Lam,  the  Ahl  esh-Shark,  and  the  Findiyin,  and  he  pre- 
vented the  people  from  performing  the  JVaJciif,"  until  the 
Amir  of  the  Hajj gave  him  four  thousand  ashrafi  to  clear  the 
road  between  them  and  the  [place  of  the]  Wakuf ;  where- 
upon he  was  able  to  accompany  the  people  to  Arafat  and 
Muzdelifah  and  Mina  f  but  in  the  meantime  the  followers 

1  This  was  the  first  dignitary  of  the  state,  after  the  sovereign, 
during  the  regency  of  the  Mamluks.  The  office  corresponded  with 
that  of  the  Grand  Wazir  among  the  Turks,  and  the  court  of  the 
Amir  ed-Duweidar  was  almost  equal  to  that  of  the  Sultan. 

~  One  of  the  ceremonies  connected  with  the  Pilgrimage,  which 
is  performed  at  Arafat.     Sec  p.  43. 

:i  See  note  1  on  p.  45. 


of  Barakat  plundered  a  caravan  from  Juddah,near  the  gates 
of  Meccah." 

The  facts  thus  recorded  are  corroborated  by  the 
author  of  the  Ruah  cr-Rudh,  another  Arabic  chronicle 
of  a  later  date  ;  but  these  extracts  amply  suffice  to 
attest  the  truth  of  Varthema's  incidental  remarks 
respecting  the  feud  which  existed  between  the  rival 
brothers  Barakat,  and  the  general  insecurity  of  the 
country  resulting  therefrom.  Moreover,  a  careful 
comparison  of  dates,  as  they  may  be  gathered  from 
our  traveller's  journal,  with  those  given  in  the  above 
quotations,  renders  it  highly  probable  that  the  Arabs 
whom  the  caravan  encountered  between  El-Medinah 
and  Meccah,  (see  p.  35,)  and  those  also  who  caused 
the  precipitate  rush  from  Arafat,  (see  p.  44,)  consisted 
of  adherents  of  one  or  other  of  the  contending  factions. 

To  return  to  our  review  of  the  narrative.  Entering 
Meccah  with  the  Hajj,  Varthema  proceeds  to  give  an 
account  of  the  city  and  its  inhabitants,  noticing  par- 
ticularly the  great  number  of  foreigners  who  had 
arrived  there  from  the  east  and  west,  "  some  for  pur- 
poses of  trade,  and  some  on  pilgrimage  for  the  pardon 
of  their  sins";  and  the  various  commodities  which 
were  imported  by  them  from  Africa,  the  western 
coast  of  India,  and  the  Bay  of  Bengal.  Next,  he  takes 
us  into  the  Great  Mosque,  describing  the  Ka'abah 
and  the  well  Zemzem,  with  the  various  ceremonies 
performed  there ;  and  thence  he  accompanies  the 
pilgrims  to  Arafat,  and  returns  with  them  in  haste 
through  the  Valley  of  Mina,  where  he  witnessed  the 
customary  lapidation  of  the  "  Great  Devil." 



Considering  that  our  author  is  the  first  European 
traveller  on  record  who  visited  the  holy  places  of  the 
Muhammcdans,  and  taking  into  account  how  scanty 
must  have  been  his  previous  knowledge  of  the  history 
and  distinctive  doctrines  of  Islam,  his  description  of 
Meccah  and  of  the  Ilajj  may  fairly  claim  to  be 
regarded  as  a  literary  wonder.  With  but  few  excep- 
tions, his  minutest  details  are  confirmed  by  later  and 
far  more  learned  writers,  whose  investigations  on  the 
whole  have  added  comparatively  little  to  the  know- 
ledge which  we  possess  of  the  Mussulman  pilgrimage 
through  the  pages  of  Varthema ;  and  the  occasional 
correspondence  between  some  of  his  statements  and 
those  of  Burckhardt  is  so  striking,  as  to  give  rise  to 
the  conjecture  that  that  enterprising  traveller  had 
perused  his  book  either  before  or  after  his  own  journey 
into  the  Hijaz.  Burton,  whose  eastern  learning  and 
personal  experience  of  the  Hajj  constitute  him  a  most 
competent  judge,  bestows  this  well  merited  encomium 
on  our  author's  narrative  : — "  But  all  things  consi- 
dered, Ludovico  Barthema,  for  correctness  of  observ- 
ation and  readiness  of  wit,  stands  in  the  foremost  rank 
of  the  old  oriental  travellers."1 

The  Ilajj  over,  Varthema  being  anxious  to  visit 
other  countries,  or  disinclined  to  return  by  the  same 
route  he  had  come,  meditated  escape  from  his  com- 
panions. Fortune  favoured  the  design  by  throwing 
in  his  way  a  Mussulman  trader  who  had  been  to 
Europe,  and  who  agreed   to  aid  him  in  the  attempt, 

1  Personal  Narrative  of  a  "Pilgrimage  to  El-Medinah  and  Meccah, 
vol.  ii.  p.  352. 


on  learning  that  he  intended  to  manufacture  "  large 
mortars,"  to  be  used  by  the  Moslems  against  the  in- 
fidel Portuguese,  and  in  consideration  of  having  his 
goods  passed  free  of  duty  out  of  Meccah,  through  our 
author's  influence  with  the  commander  of  the  Mam- 
luks.  He  also  furnished  him  with  directions  how  to 
reach  the  court  of  the  King  of  the  Deccan,  from 
which  latter  circumstance  it  is  clear  that  Varthema 
had  already  contemplated  a  journey  to  India.  Depart- 
ing himself  with  the  caravan,  the  Mussulman  con- 
fided his  charge  to  the  care  of  his  wife,  with  instruc- 
tions to  despatch  him,  on  the  following  Friday,  by  the 
Indian  Jcdfila  proceeding  to  Juddah.  According  to 
his  own  statement,  Varthema  succeeded  in  gaining 
the  affections  of  his  kind  hostess  and  her  young  niece, 
both  of  whom  held  out  strong  inducements  for  him 
to  remain ;  but  he  prudently  "  declined  all  their 
offers,  on  account  of  the  present  danger,"  and  started 
towards  the  coast  with  the  caravan,  "  to  the  no  small 
regret  of  the  said  ladies,  who  made  great  lamenta- 

At  Juddah,  our  traveller  took  refuge  in  a  mosque, 
which  was  crowded  with  indigent  pilgrims,  and, 
fearing  detection,  pretended  sickness,  and  even  ab- 
stained from  going  abroad  except  by  night  in  search 
of  food.  Nevertheless,  his  brief  account  of  the  place 
is  quite  correct,  and  judging  from  the  number  of 
vessels  then  in  the  harbour,  which  he  estimates  at 
one  hundred,  "  great  and  small,"  the  commerce  of 
the  port  must  have  been  much  larger  at  that  time 
than  it  is  now, — a  result  mainly  attributable  to  the 


Cape  route  having  subsequently  diverted  much  of 
the  trade  between  India  and  Europe  from  its  older 
channel  via  Egypt. 

In  his  description  of  the  voyage  down  the  Red 
Sea,  (which  he  naively  remarks  is  not  red,)  during 
which  the  vessel  only  sailed  by  day  owing  to  the 
numerous  coral-reefs  and  shoals  which  lie  off  the 
coast,  Varthema  mentions  their  landing  at  Jazan, 
now  an  unfrequented  place,  but  at  that  time  one  of 
the  principal  ports  of  southern  Arabia ;  then  their 
skirmish  with  some  wild  Bedawin,  who  are  as  wild 
still;  next,  their  touching  at  the  island  of  Camran, 
which  he  tells  us  was  subject  to  the  "  Sultan  of  the 
Amanni,"  meaning  the  Imam  of  Sanaa,  but  whose 
territories  were  invaded  a  few  years  later  by  a 
combined  Egyptian  and  Turkish  army  whose  fleet 
anchored  in  that  very  place  ;  and  finally  the  passage 
through  the  Straits  of  Bab  el-Mandeb,  and  their  safe 
arrival  at  Aden.  Here,  the  day  following,  being  sus- 
pected as  a  Christian  spy  in  disguise,  he  was  forth- 
with laden  with  irons,  and  placed  in  confinement 
together  with  another  individual,  apparently  a  fellow- 
passenger,  whose  name  and  country,  however,  do  not 
transpire.  Three  days  after,  some  refugees  from  a 
ship,  which  had  been  captured  by  the  Portuguese, 
arriving  at  Aden,  the  suspicions  of  the  inhabitants 
were  confirmed,  and  it  was  only  through  the  personal 
intervention  of  the  deputy  governor,  who  decided 
that  the  case  should  be  referred  to  the  Sultan,  that 
they  were  saved  from  the  vengeance  of  the  infuriated 
inhabitants.      Accordingly,  after  a  delay  of  sixty-five 


days,  the  two  captives  were  mounted  on  one  camel, 
still  in  chains,  and  sent  under  an  escort  to  Radaa, 
eight  days'  journey  from  Aden,  where  they  under- 
went a  preliminary  examination  before  the  Sultan  ; 
but  Varthema  failing  to  pronounce  the  Muhamme- 
dan  formula  of  faith,  either  through  fear,  or,  as  he 
says,  "  through  the  will  of  God,"  he  and  his  com- 
panion were  again  cast  into  prison. 

Leaving  them  there  to  chew  the  bitter  cud  of  re- 
pentance, it  will  not  be  out  of  place  to  notice  the 
coincidence  connected  with  the  proceedings  of  the 
Portuguese  in  the  Indian  seas  at  this  period,  and  the 
misfortunes  which  they  entailed  on  our  enterprising 

In  a  note  on  the  text  of  this  part  of  the  narrative, 
I  have  adduced  a  passage  from  an  Arabian  historian, 
to  the  effect  that  in  the  year  a.d.  1502,  seven  native 
vessels  had  been  seized  by  the  Franks  between  India 
and  the  island  of  Hormuz;  and  most  of  the  crews  mur- 
dered. I  am  inclined  to  believe,  however,  that  the 
case  in  which  the  refugees  were  concerned  may  be 
gathered  more  definitely,  partly  from  Greene's  Col~* 
lection,  and  partly  from  the  journal  of  Thome  Lopez. 
The  former  has  the  following : — 

"  Stephen  de  Garaa  being  arrived  on  the  coast  of  India, 
near  Mount  Deli,  to  the  north  of  Kananor,  he  met  a  ship  of 
great  bulk,  called  the  Meri  [probably  Miri,  i.e.  state  pro- 
perty,] belonging  to  the  Sultan  of  Egypt,  which  was  very 
richly  laden,  and  full  of  Moors  of  quality,  who  were  going 
to  Mekka.  The  ship  being  taken  after  a  vigorous  resistance, 
the  General  went  on  board,  and  sending  for  the  principal 


Moors  ordered  them  to  produce  such  merchandizes  as  they 
had,  threatening  them,  otherwise,  to  have  them  thrown  into 
the  sea.  They  pretended  all  their  effects  were  at  Kalekut; 
but  one  of  them  having  been  flung  overboard,  bound  hand 
and  foot,  the  rest,  through  fear,  delivered  their  goods.  All 
the  children  were  carried  into  the  General's  ship,  and  the 
remainder  of  the  plunder  given  to  the  sailors.  After  which, 
Stephen  de  Gama,  by  Don  Vasco's  order,  set  fire  to  the 
vessel ;  but  the  Moors,  having  broken  up  the  hatches  under 
which  they  were  confined,  and  quenched  the  flames  with 
the  water  that  was  in  the  ship,  Stephen  was  commanded  to 
lay  them  aboard.  The  Moors,  having  been  made  desperate 
with  the  apprehension  of  their  danger,  received  him  with 
great  resolution,  and  even  attempted  to  burn  the  other 

"  Night  coming  on,  he  was  obliged  to  desist  without  doing 
his  work ;  but  the  General  gave  orders,  that  the  vessel 
should  be  watched,  that  the  passengers  might  not,  by  favour 
of  the  darkness,  escape  to  land,  which  was  near.  All  night 
long  the  poor  unhappy  Moors  called  on  Muhammed  to  help 
them,  but  the  dead  can  neither  hear  nor  succour  their  vota- 
ries. In  the  morning,  Stephen  de  Gama  was  sent  to  execute 
his  former  orders.  He  boarded  the  ship,  and,  setting  fire  to 
it,  drove  the  Moors  into  the  poop,  who  still  defended  them- 
selves ;  for  some  of  the  sailors  would  not  leave  the  vessel 
till  it  was  half  burnt.  Many  of  the  Moors,  when  they 
saw  the  flames  approach  them,  leaped  into  the  sea  Avith 
hatchets  in  their  hands,  and,  swimming,  fought  with  their 
pursuers.  Some  even  made  up  to,  and  attacked,  the  boats, 
doing  much  hurt ;  however,  most  of  them  were  at  length 
slain,  and  all  those  drowned  who  remained  in  the  ship, 
which  soon  after  sunk.  So  that  of  three  hundred  persons, 
(among  whom  were  thirty  women,)  not  one  escaped  the  fire, 
sword,  or  water."1 

1   Greene's    Collection  of  Voyages  and  Travels,  vol.  i.  pp.  51-2. 


If  this  is  the  same  act  of  piracy  recorded  by  Thome 
Lopez,  which  appears  tolerably  certain,  it  occurred 
on  the  29th  of  September  1502.  The  main  incidents 
are  identical,  and  he  dilates  with  admiration  on  the 
gallant  defence  made  by  the  Arabs,  and  stigmatizes 
the  conduct  of  the  Portuguese  admiral  as  cruel  and 
barbarous.  But  as  all  the  unfortunate  Arabs  perished 
on  that  occasion,  the  case  alluded  to  in  Varthema's 
narrative,  wherein  several  ships  are  said  to  have  been 
captured  and  some  of  the  crews  to  have  escaped, 
must  be  a  different  one,  though  perhaps  both  were 
connected.  The  desideratum  is  supplied  by  Thome 
Lopez,  who,  in  continuation  of  his  account  of  the  pre- 
vious engagement,  describes,  the  chase  of  four  Moorish 
ships  immediately  after,  of  which  three  escaped,  and 
one  was  stranded,  and  the  capture  of  two  others  on 
the  22nd  and  26th  of*  October  following.1  The  six 
or  seven  months  which  elapsed  between  these  out- 
rages and  Varthema's  arrival  at  Aden,  would  allow 
time  for  any  of  the  surviving  crews  to  reach  that 
place,  and  the  coincidence  thus  established  is  another 
striking  example  of  the  accuracy  of  our  author's  state- 

In  order  to  illustrate  this  still  further,  it  will  not 
be  irrelevant  to  the  subject  to  give  a  general  outline 
of  the  political  condition  of  Yemen  at  that  period, 
referring  the  reader  to  the  annotations  on  the  text  for 
the  corroboration  of  particular  facts  mentioned  in  the 
course  of  the  original  narrative. 

During  the  reign  of  the  more  warlike  Khalifs,  the 
1  See  Ramttsio,  vol.  i.  pp.  136-38. 


turbulent  tribes  of  Yemen  appear  to  have  been  kept 
in  tolerable  subjection  ;  but  towards  the  end  of  the 
tenth  century  the  authority  of  the  'Abbasides  became 
virtually  extinct,  and  the  country  was  divided  into  a 
number  of  petty  sovereignties,  each  assuming  differ- 
ent titles,  and  exercising  various  degrees  of  territorial 
jurisdiction.  This  state  of  things  continued  till  the 
accession  of  Salah  ed-Din,  the  first  of  the  Ayyubite 
Sultans,  whose  brother  Tooran  Shah  captured  Sanaa, 
the  capital  of  the  province,  about  a.d.  1173,  and 
reduced  many  of  the  independent  chiefs  both  in  the 
interior  and  on  the  coast  to  submission.  Successive 
princes  of  that  family  continued  to  exercise  a  limited 
supremacy  over  Yemen  long  after  the  dynasty  had 
been  superseded  by  the  Baharite  Mamluks  of  Egypt ; 
but  the  country  gradually  relapsed  into  complete 
anarchy  until  about  a.d.  1429,  when  the  government 
was  seized  by  two  brothers  of  the  Beni  Tahir,  named 
severally  Shams  ed-Din  'Ali  and  Salah  ed-Din  'Amir 
surnamed  El-Melek  edh-Dhafir,  claiming  descent  from 
the  Koreish  tribe,  who  eventually  succeeded  in  taking 
possession  of  Sanaa,  and  in  establishing  their  joint 
sway  over  the  southern  provinces  of  Yemen.  The 
capital,  however,  was  soon  after  retaken  by  its  former 
governor  Muhammed  ibn  Nasir,  and  in  a  fruitless 
attempt  to  recover  it  Salah  ed  Din  'Amir  lost  his  life. 
The  surviving  brother  was  succeeded  in  1454  by 
Mansiir  Taj  ed-Din  'Abd  el-Wahhab,  on  whose  death 
in  1488  the  government  fell  into  the  hands  of  his 
nephew  'Amir  ibn  'Abd  el-Wahhab,  who  was  the 
ruling  sovereign  of  southern  Yemen  during  the  time 


of  Varthema's  visit.1  On  the  accession  of  'Amir  ibn 
'Abel  el-Wahhab  the  government  of  the  peninsula, 
according  to  the  author  of  the  Rutih  er-Ruah,  was 
divided  as  follows  : — "  The  Tehama,  and  Zebid,  and 
Aden,  and  Lahej,  and  Abyan,  as  far  as  Radaii,  were 
under  'Amir.  Sanaa  and  its  districts  were  subject  to 
Muhammed  ibn  el-Imam2  en-Nasir.  Kaukaban  and 
its  districts  under  El-Mutahhir  ibn  Muhammed  ibn 
Suleiman.  Esh-Shark,  and  Edh-Dhawahir,  and  Sii'a- 
dah,  with  their  dependencies,  were  divided  between 
El-Muweyyed,  the  Sherifs  of  the  Al  el-Mansur,  and 
the  Imam  el-Mansiir,  Muhammed  ibn  'Ali  es-Seraji 

1  He  mentions  him  by  name  as  "  Sechamir"  or  Sheikh  'Amir. 
See  p.  83. 

2  In  a  religious  sense,  this  title  ordinarily  designates  the  leader 
of  the  services  in  the  Mosque,  and  as  the  Khalifs  were  recognized 
as  spiritual  as  well  as  temporal  presidents,  they  early  adopted  it. 
When  the  authority  of  the  'Abbasides  declined  in  Yemen,  it  was 
assumed  by  the  regents  at  Sanaa,  who  moreover  usurped  that  of 
Amir  el-Mu 'amanin,  or  Lord  of  the  Faithful.  In  course  of  time, 
however,  other  rulers  of  Yemen  seem  to  have  called  themselves 
"  Imam ;"  so  that  eventually  it  came  to  signify  nothing  more  than 
a  presiding  prince,  or  one  having  authority  over  subordinate  chiefs. 
At  the  present  day,  it  would  be  difficult  to  trace  the  right  of  bear- 
ing the  distinction  to  lineal  descent;  in  fact,  those  who  now  use 
it  in  Yemen  cannot  lay  claim  to  it  on  that  score.  On  the  other 
hand,  in  'Amman  it  appears  to  have  been  conferred,  by  the  general 
consent  of  the  people,  for  some  real  or  fancied  excellence  in  the 
person  of  the  sovereign  ;  and  it  is  remarkable  that  whereas  all  the 
predecessors  in  the  dynasty  of  the  late  Seyyed  Sa'id  bore  the  ap- 
pellation, he  himself  was  never  so  styled  except  by  Europeans, 
and  his  successor  at  Maskat  is  known  only  by  the  title  of 
"Seyyed."  I  may  also  add  that  the  title  of  "Imam"  has  fre- 
quently been  given  to  renowned  authors,  either  because  they  have 
at  some  period  taken  the  lead  in  the  religious  services  of  the 
Mosque,  or  on  account  of  their  acknowledged  learning  and  piety. 


It  is  easy  to  imagine,  from  the  bare  enumeration 
of  these  petty  chiefdoms,  that  the  country  at  this 
period  was  in  a  most  distracted  state ;  but  the  genius 
and  military  prowess  of  'Amir  soon  effected  a  great 
change.  One  after  another,  most  of  the  inland  chiefs 
submitted  to  his  sway,  and  in  a.d.  1501  he  made  an 
attempt  to  capture  Sanaa,  but  was  ignominiously 
repulsed.  Determined,  however,  not  to  abandon  the 
project  which  he  had  conceived  of  removing  the  only 
impediment  to  his  complete  ascendancy  over  Yemen, 
he  two  years  after  collected  a  vast  army,  which 
according  to  the  Rudh  cr-Ruah  consisted  of  180,000 
men,  including  3,000  cavalry,  and  after  a  severe 
conflict  entered  the  capital  in  triumph. 

Comparing  the  dates  given  by  the  Arabian  his- 
torian with  the  probable  time  of  Varthema's  arrival 
at  Kadaa,  there  can  be  no  doubt  that  the  80,000 
troops  which  he  saw  reviewed  there,  and  which  he 
tells  us  marched  two  days  after  towards  Sanaa,  headed 
by  the  Sultan,  was  a  portion  of  the  army  which  shortly 
after,  as  has  just  been  stated,  succeeded  in  capturing 
that  city.  The"  coincidence  is  as  perfect  as  it  was 
undesigned,  and  the  inference  substantiates  with 
the  highest  proof  the  authenticity  of  our  author's 

After  a  similar  digression,  wherein  he  describes  in 
detail  the  arms  and  military  equipment  of  the  Sultan's 
army,  Varthema  invites  us  to  return  to  his  prison.1 
There  he  would  probably  have  languished  for  an  in- 

1  Prisons  in  many  parts  of  the  East  arc  attached  to  the  palace 
or  residence  of  the  governor. 


definite  period  but  for  the  intervention  of  one  of  the 
Sultan's  wives,  whom  he  honours  with  the  title  of 
"  queen,"  who,  impelled  by  various  motives,  in- 
terested herself  in  his  behalf,  and  employed  her 
maidens  to  minister  to  his  necessities.  But  Var- 
thema,  intent  on  effecting  his  escape,  and  reasonably 
doubtful  whether  the  queen's  liberality  alone  was 
likely  to  promote  that  object,  drew  lots  with  his  com- 
panion which  of  the  two  should  feign  madness,1 — a 
stratagem  of  ancient  date,  if  not  of  authority,  (see 
1  Sam.  xxi.  13 — 15.)  The  lot  fell  on  our  traveller, 
and  if  in  the  course  of  his  simulation  he  sometimes 
transgressed  the  bonds  of  decency,  the  freaks  were 
not  inconsistent  with  his  assumed  character;  and  his 
examination  by  two  hermits,  or  sheikhs,  who  were 
sent  for  to  decide  on  the  case,  would  probably  have 
resulted  in  a  confirmation  of  his  sanctity,  but  for  the 
practical  joke  which  he  imprudently  played  on  the 
persons  of  the  venerable  examiners,  which  sent  them 
scampering  from  the  prison,  exclaiming :  "  He  is 
mad  !     He  is  mad  !     He  is  not  holy  !" 

The  amusement  which  these  eccentricities  afforded 
the  Sultana  and  her  attendants  is  so  inconsistent  with 
our  notions  of  female  modesty  as  to  be  almost  in- 
credible ;  nevertheless,  if  the  inner  life  of  many  native 
harims  were  similarly  exposed  to  view,  it  would  exhibit 
ladies  of  rank  revelling  in  scenes  far  more  revolting 
than  those  described  in  the  "  Chapter  concerning  the 

1  It  is  a  popular  superstition  throughout  the  East  to  attribute 
madness  to  the  influence  of  a  separate  spirit  acting  upon  the 


Partiality  of  the  Women  of  Arabia  for  White  Men." 
What  else,  indeed,  could  reasonably  be  expected  ? 
Brought  up  without  education,  confined  to  the  seclu- 
sion of  the  women's  apartments,  and  debarred  from 
sharing  in  public  amusements,  it  is  not  surprising  that 
the  uncultivated  mind  of  eastern  females  should  follow 
its  natural  bent,  and  seek  to  satisfy  the  longing  for  en- 
joyment, inherent  in  us  all,  by  kindred  gratifications. 

The  queen  was  evidently  convinced  from  the 
outset  that  our  hero's  madness  was  merely  a  feint ; 
but  he  very  discreetly  resisted  all  her  consequent 
blandishments,  only  availing  himself  of  them  as 
might  best  conduce  to  his  own  ends.  Simulating 
sickness,  he  obtained  her  consent  to  visit  a  holy  man 
at  Aden  renowned  for  miraculous  cures,  and  was 
furnished,  moreover,  by  her  liberality  with  a  camel 
and  the  very  opportune  gift  of  twenty-five  ashrafi1 
for  the  journey.  On  reaching  Aden,  he  forthwith 
engaged  a  passage  on  board  a  native  ship  which  was 
to  sail  for  India,  via  the  Persian  Gulf,  in  the  course 
of  a  month,  and,  taking  advantage  of  that  interval  to 
escape  from  the  notice  of  the  Adenites,  he  set  out  on 
an  excursion  into  the  interior. 

In  the  subsequent  pages,  I  have  annotated  so  fully 
on  the  text  of  this  part  of  our  author's  wanderings, 
that  it  would  be  superfluous  to  notice  any  details 
here.  The  Arabic  MS.  Chronicles  already  men- 
tioned and  Niebuhr's  voyages,  conjoined  with  per- 
sonal experience  derived  from  natives  of  the  country, 
have  been  my  principal  guides  in  illustrating  his  trip 

1  The  ashrafi  appears  to  have  been  equivalent  to  a  ducat,  or 
about  J.v.  t'u/.  of  our  mono)'. 


into  Yemen ;  in  fact,  I  am  not  aware  that  any  others, 
in  the  shape  of  general  travels,  exist,  unless  it  be  the 
very  meagre  account  given  by  Ibn  Batuta  in  the 
fourteenth  century.  Varthema  is  undoubtedly  the 
first  European  who  has  left  us  a  description  of  this 
portion  of  Arabia,  and  between  his  time  and  the 
present,  Niebuhr  as  far  back  as  1761,  (with  the  ex- 
ception of  several  brief  personal  narratives  of  the 
route  between  Mokha  and  Sanaa,  and  a  trip  from 
thence  to  Mareb  by  Mons.  Arnaud  in  1843,)  is  the 
only  European  traveller  who  has  penetrated  into  the 
country  more  than  a  few  miles  from  the  sea-coast. 
Even  Niebuhr's  journey,  performed  in  comparative 
security  and  luxury,  does  not  embrace  so  large  an 
extent  of  Yemen  as  that  of  our  author ;  but  where- 
ever  his  testimony  or  that  of  others  was  available,  it 
substantiates  in  a  remarkable  manner  the  accuracy 
of  Varthema's  observations.  The  annexed  abstract 
of  his  route  conveys,  in  a  tabular  form,  the  different 
towns  visited,  with  their  approximate  distances  : — 

Aden  to  Damt,1  via  Lahej  and  'Az'az 

Damt  to  Yerim,  via,  El-Makranah 

Yerim  to  Sanaa 

Sanaa  to  Ta'ez 

Ta'ez  to  Zebid 

Zebid  to  Dhamar 

Dhamar  to  Aden 


















Total     595 

1  In  a  note  on  the  text  (p.  75)  I  have  identified  this  place,  which 
Varthema  calls  "  Dante,"  with  Niebuhr's  Dimne  ;  but  on  second 
thoughts  I  think  it  more  likely  that  it  represents  his  Denn,  which 
he  describes  as  "  une  petite  ville,  avec  une  bonne  citadelle,  et  line 
place  de  foire."      Voy.  en  Arabic,  vol.  hi.  p.  214. 


On  his  return  to  Aden,  of  which  place  he  gives  a 
very  accurate  description,  Varthema  again  sought 
refuge  in  a  mosque  under  pretence  of  sickness ;  but 
when  the  time  for  departure  arrived,  he  was  smuggled 
on  board  by  the  conniving  Arab  skipper,  who  doubt- 
less received  some  of  the  queen's  ashrafi  which  Her 
Majesty  had  given  for  a  different  purpose.  Sailing 
towards  the  Persian  Gulf,  the  vessel  probably  en- 
countered one  of  those  north-westerly  gales  which, 
at  the  season  of  the  year  when  I  have  calculated  the 
voyage  to  have  been  made,  blow  for  several  days 
together  along  the  north-east  coast  of  Arabia.  Being 
obliged  to  veer,  they  ran  with  a  fair  wind  for  the 
north-east  coast  of  Africa,  anchoring  first  at  Zaila, 
from  whence  they  subsequently  proceeded  to  the 
contiguous  snug  port  of  Berbera, 

Varthema's  account  of  Zaila  comprises  all  that  there 
is  to  be  said  of  the  place.  He  notices  the  large  number 
of  Abyssinian  slaves  which  were  exported  from  thence 
to  different  parts, — a  traffic  which  has  only  been  ar- 
rested within  the  last  few  years ;  the  various  produce 
which  found  its  way  there  from  the  interior  ;  some 
of  the  animals  peculiar  to  the  country ;  and  his  de- 
scription of  the  Somali  inhabitants  is  true  to  life 
still.  Except  that  he  erroneously  calls  Berbera  an 
island,  (wherein  he  possibly  translated  from  the 
Arabic  jezirah,  a  term  which  the  natives  also  apply 
to  a  peninsula,  and  sometimes  conventionally  to 
havens  on  the  mainland,)  his  brief  account  of  that 
locality  also,  and  of  the  pastoral  habits  of  the  people, 
is  equally  truthful. 


Though  originally  bound  for  the  Persian  Gulf,  the 
Arab  skipper  most  probably  picked  up  some  addi- 
tional freight  at  the  above-mentioned  places  for 
India,  between  which  and  the  north-east  coast  of 
Africa  a  considerable  trade  is  still  carried  on,  chiefly 
by  Borah  merchants  of  Guzerat  and  Cutch.  This 
commerce,  which  in  more  ancient  times  appears  to 
have  been  conducted  through  the  intermediate  ports 
of  Hadhramaut  on  the  north-east  coast  of  Arabia, 
eventually  took  the  more  direct  route  across  the 
Indian  ocean,  and  was  in  full  play  when  the  Portu- 
guese first  found  their  way  to  the  Red  Sea.  The 
fact  of  the  skipper  having  made  for  Zaila  proves  that 
the  voyage  occurred  during  the  north-east  monsoon, 
which  is  the  only  season  for  foreign  trade  there, 
the  coast  being  generally  dangerous  throughout  the 
opposite  or  south-westerly  monsoon. 

In  twelve  days,  the  vessel  reached  the  small  island 
of  Diu  in  Guzerat,  which  Varthema  calls  "  Diu 
bander-er-rumi,"  i.e.,  Diu  the  Port  of  the  Bum,  and 
describes  with  his  usual  accuracy.  The  suffix,  which 
I  have  not  met  with  elsewhere,  was  probably  a  con- 
ventional designation  among  the  Arabs  owing  to  so 
many  "  Turkish  merchants,"  (more  correctly,  Cir- 
cassians, Affghans,  and  Persians,)  being  resident 
there.  The  familiar  intercourse  which  existed  be- 
tween that  part  of  Western  India  and  the  opposite 
coast  of  Arabia  is  attested  by  incidental  notices 
occurring  in  Arabian  chronicles  of  the  time. 

From  Diu,  the  ship  proceeded  up  the  Gulf  of 
Cambay   to   Gogo,  and  from    thence    steered  across 



the  Indian  Ocean,  doubling  Mussendom,  to  Julfar, 
an  Arab  town  on  the  western  side  of  that  pro- 
montory, which  was  subsequently  occupied  by  the 
Portuguese  as  a  station  for  the  pearl-fishery.  Here, 
a  retrograde  movement  was  made  by  redoubling 
Mussendom  in  order  to  reach  Maskat,  of  which 
place  our  author  barely  gives  the  name,  and  the  next 
port  gained  was  Hormuz,  where  he  appears  to  have 
sojourned  for  several  days. 

The  eligibility  of  that  island,  situated  directly  in 
the  line  of  the  Indian  trade,  via  the  Persian  Gulf, 
appears  to  have  given  it  considerable  importance  as 
a  commercial  emporium  at  a  very  early  period.  If  it 
was  the  Nekrokis  of  Benjamin  of  Tudela,  which  is 
highly  probable  though  his  description  of  that  place 
is  most  perplexing,  it  was  largely  frequented  by 
traders  to  and  from  India  in  the  middle  of  the 
twelfth  century.  A  century  later,  Marco  Polo  makes 
it  the  resort  of  many  merchants  who  brought  thither 
spices,  pearls,  precious  stones,  elephants'  teeth,  "  and 
all  other  precious  things  from  India ;"  and  'Abd  er- 
Razzak,  sixty  years  prior  to  our  traveller,  says  that 
"  the  merchants  of  the  seven  climates  all  make  their 
way  to  this  port."  Varthema's  account  of  the  island, 
— its  situation  near  the  mainland,  its  utter  barrenness 
and  yet  withal  its  prosperity  as  "  a  chief  maritime 
port,  where  sometimes  as  many  as  three  hundred 
vessels  are  assembled," — is  in  perfect  accordance 
with  these  preceding  travellers,  and  he  describes  the 
mode  of  fishing  for  pearls  just  as  it  exists  at  the 
present  day. 


All  this  is  now  changed,  and  Hormuz,  like  the 
Tyre  of  Scripture,  is  little  better  than  a  rock  for 
fishermen  to  spread  their  nets  on.  It  was  captured 
by  the  Portuguese  under  Albuquerque  in  1508,  who 
were  in  turn  expelled  in  1662  by  the  Persians,  aided 
by  a  British  fleet,  during  the  reign  of  Shah  Abbas, 
who  caused  the  colony  to  be  removed  to  Gombrim 
on  the  opposite  mainland,  and  dignified  it  with  the 
name  of  Bander  Abbas.  The  intervention  of  Great 
Britain  in  this  affair  is  thus  judiciously  commented 
on  by  Sir  John  Malcolm  : — 

"  If  the  English  ever  indulged  a  hope  of  deriving  per- 
manent benefit  from  the  share  they  took  in  this  transaction, 
they  were  completely  disappointed.  They  had,  it  is  true, 
revenged  themselves  upon  an  enemy  they  hated,  destroyed 
a  flourishing  settlement,  and  brought  ruin  and  misery  upon 
thousands,  to  gratify  the  avarice  and  ambition  of  a  despot, 
who  promised  to  enrich  them  by  a  favour,  which  they  should 
have  known  was  not  likely  to  protect  them,  even  during  his 
life,  from  the  violence  and  injustice  of  his  own  officers,  much 
less  during  that  of  his  successors.  The  history  of  the  English 
factory  at  Gombroon,  from  this  date  till  it  was  abandoned, 
is  one  series  of  disgrace,  of  losses,  and  of  dangers,  as  that  of 
every  such  establishment  in  a  country  like  Persia  must  be. 
Had  that  nation  either  taken  Ormuz  for  itself,  or  made  a 
settlement  on  a  more  eligible  island  in  the  gulf,  it  would 
have  carried  on  its  commerce  with  that  quarter  to  much 
greater  advantage  ;  and  its  political  influence,  both  in  Persia 
and  Arabia,  would  have  remained  unrivalled."1 

We  are  now  to  accompany  our  traveller  through  a 
part  of  the  journey  where  the  landmarks  of  his  route 

'   History  of  Persia,  vol.  i.  p.  547. 

c  2 


are  less  distinctly  traceable.  We  must,  of  course, 
suppose  him  to  have  crossed  over  to  the  mainland ; 
but  how  far  he  had  penetrated  into  the  interior  when 
he  writes  :  "  Departing  thence,  I  passed  into  Persia, 
and  travelling  for  twelve  days  I  found  a  city  called 
Eri,"  is  not  specified.  Nevertheless,  as  I  see  no 
cause  to  question  his  visit  to  Eri,  the  ancient  name 
of  Herat,  and  as  it  is  tolerably  certain  that  he  could 
not  have  reached  that  place  in  the  time  given,  we 
may  reasonably  infer  either  that  an  error  has  in  this 
instance  crept  into  the  original  narrative,  or  that 
Varthema  dates  his  departure  from  a  point  which  he 
has  omitted  to  record.  As  far  as  his  rather  summary 
account  of  Herat  goes, — of  the  city,  its  productions, 
its  manufactures,  and  its  population, — his  information 
is  perfectly  correct ;  and  that  fact,  taken  in  conjunc- 
tion with  a  subsequent  avowal  that  he  described 
Samarcand  by  report  only,  may  be  fairly  regarded  as 
a  proof  of  his  veracity  ;  for  if  he  was  disposed  to  mis- 
represent in  the  one  case,  there  is  no  reason  why  he 
should  not  have  done  so  in  the  other. 

Twenty  days'  march  from  Herat  brought  our  tra- 
veller to  "  a  large  and  fine  river,  called  Eufra,"  which 
"  on  account  of  its  great  size"  he  supposes  to  be  the 
Euphrates.  As  he  was  then  three  days  distant  from 
Shiraz,  to  which  city  the  onward  road  lay  "  to  the  left 
hand"  of  his  Eufra,  I  have  supposed  him  to  have  struck 
on  the  Pulwan  at  or  near  Merghab,  a  little  to  the 
southward  of  which  town  there  appears  to  be  a  high- 
way, leading  by  Istakar,  to  a  point  below  the  junction 
of  the  Pulwiln  with  the  Bendemir,  from  whence  it  is 


continued  to  Shiraz.  Should  this  identification  be 
correct,  (and  I  can  suggest  no  other,  unless  he  pur- 
sued a  route  by  Neyriz  and  Bakhtcgan,  mistaking 
the  neighbouring  lake  which  goes  by  those  names  for 
a  river,)  Varthema  must  unquestionably  be  charged 
with  exaggeration,  as  neither  the  Fulwan  nor  the 
Bendemir  is  entitled  to  the  epithet  of  "  a  large  and 
fine  river." 

Arrived  at  Shiraz,  which  our  author  describes  as  a 
great  mart  for  turquoises  and  Balass  rubies,  remark- 
ing, however,  that  those  stones  were  not  produced 
there,  but  came,  as  was  reported,  from  a  city  called 
"  Balachsam"  (Badakshan,)  accident  threw  him  in 
the  way  of  a  Persian  merchant  called  "  Cazazionor," 
by  whom  he  was  recognized  as  a  fellow-pilgrim  at 
Meccah,  and  whose  friendly  overtures  on  the  occasion 
were  destined  to  exert  a  powerful  influence  in  shaping 
his  subsequent  course. 

We,  who  carry  with  us  on  our  travels  circular 
notes  or  letters  of  credit  negotiable  in  any  part  of 
the  globe,  can  form  a  very  inadequate  conception  of 
the  difficulties  which  an  adventurer  under  Varthema's 
circumstances  must  have  encountered  in  making  his 
way  from  one  place  to  another.  He  never  alludes 
directly  to  the  subject,  but  his  management  may  be 
gleaned  from  incidental  passages  occurring  in  his 
narrative.  At  the  outset,  he  appears  to  have  had  a 
supply  of  money,  for  he  bribed  the  Captain  of  the 
Mamliiks  to  admit  him  into  that  corps.  While  with 
them,  he  probably  received  pay  and  shared  in  their 
exactions,  which,  with  any  remains  of  his  original 


funds,  sufficed  to  take  him  to  Aden.  From  thence, 
he  was  sent  into  the  interior,  as  the  saying  is,  at 
Government  expense,  and  the  liberality  of  the  Arabian 
sultana  furnished  his  viaticum  as  far  as  Shiraz  ;  for,  it 
may  be  remarked,  that  there  is  not  the  slightest  evi- 
dence to  prove  his  having  engaged  in  any  commercial 
transactions  up  to  that  period,  and,  if  he  did  so  sub- 
sequently, it  was  merely  as  sleeping  partner  to  his 
Persian  benefactor.  Be  that  as  it  may,  his  encounter 
with  the  latter  was  a  piece  of  good  fortune,  without 
which  it  may  fairly  be  questioned  whether  he  would 
have  been  able  to  extend  his  travels  as  far  as  he  did. 
On  the  other  hand,  the  Persian  merchant,  who  ap- 
pears to  have  been  a  wealthy  trader  in  jewels,  was 
evidently  glad  to  secure  an  intelligent  companion  in 
the  projected  journey,  and  his  oriental  hospitality 
looked  for  no  other  recompense.  Instances  of  such 
generosity  are  not  as  uncommon  in  the  East  as  in 
the  West,  and  the  experience  of  Varthema  in  this 
respect  forms  a  striking  contrast  to  that  of  Don  Alonzo 
Enriquez  de  Guzman  in  the  course  of  his  European 
travels  during  the  same  century.1 

The  first  place  for  which  our  travellers  started  in 
company  was  Samarcand,  whether  with  the  intention 
of  limiting  the  trip  to  that  city,  or  of  making  their 
way  from  thence  to  India,  does  not  appear.  How- 
ever, they  had  not  proceeded  far  when  they  were 
obliged  to  return,  because  "  the  Soffi  was  going 
through  this  country  putting  every  thing  to  fire  and 

1  Hakluyt  Society's  Publications,   The  Life  and  Acts  of 
Don  Alonzo  de  Guzman,  translated  and  edited  by  C.  11.  Markham. 


flame  ;  and  especially  he  put  to  the  sword  all  those 
who  believed  in  Bubachar  and  Othman  and  Aumar, 
who  are  all  companions  of  Mahomet ;  but  he  leaves 
unmolested  those  who  believe  in  Mahomet  and  Ali." 
Here,  we  have  another  undesigned  coincidence  with 
contemporary  Persian  history  which  deserves  special 
notice.  Isma'il  es-Sufi,  the  first  of  the  Sufawian 
dynasty,  was  the  son  of  the  famous  Sheikh  Haidar, 
the  son  of  Juneid  the  great  grandson  of  Seif  ed-Din, 
who  claimed  descent  from  'Ali  by  Hussein  his  second 
son,  whose  branch,  according  to  the  Persians,  is  that 
of  the  Imams.  Haidar's  mother  was  the  daughter  of 
Hasan  Beg,  the  first  of  the  Turkman  dynasty  called 
BayanduiT,  who  furnished  his  son-in-law  with  an 
army  to  avenge  the  death  of  his  father  Juneid,  who 
had  been  killed  in  battle  with  Ferukhzad  king  of 
Shirwan  ;  but  Haidar  lost  his  life  in  the  attempt,  his 
two  sons  Isma'il  and  'Ali  Mirza  were  made  prisoners, 
and  most  of  his  adherents  destroyed.  Haidar's  two 
sons  were  afterwards  set  at  liberty  by  Rustam  Beg, 
the  grandson  of  Hasan  Beg,  who  succeeded  his 
uncle  Ya'acub.  The  subsequent  portion  of  Tsmai'il's 
career  illustrative  of  our  narrative,  I  translate  from 
DTIerbelot : — 

"  At  this  period  there  were  among  the  Mussulmans  scat- 
tered throughout  Asia  an  infinite  number  of  people  who 
professed  publicly  the  sect  of  'Ali,  and  especially  the  dis- 
tinctive form  of  it  ascribed  to  Haider,  which  Sheik  Sufi 
one  of  his  illustrious  ancestors  had  raised  into  high  repute. 
Isma'il  Sufi,  hearing  that  there  were  a  great  many  of  these 
in  Caramania,  which  is  the  ancient  Cilicia,  repaired  thither, 


and  raised  a  levy  of  seven  thousand  men  attached  to  the  sect, 
and  more  particularly  devoted  to  his  family,  because  either 
they  or  their  fathers  had  been  delivered  out  of  the  hands  of 
Tamerlane  through  the  intercession  of  Sheik  Sufi. 

"  Young  Isma'il,  who  was  then  only  fourteen  years  old, 
undertook  with  this  handful  of  men  to  wage  war  with 
Ferukhzad,  king  of  Shir  wan,  a  province  of  Media,  whom 
he  regarded  as  the  murderer  of  his  father.  This  enterprise 
was  so  successful,  that  he  challenged  and  slew  his  enemy, 
seized  his  kingdom,  and  thereby  gained  a  position  which 
opened  Asia  to  his  ambition. 

"  This  first  essay  in  arms  took  place  a.h.  906,  correspond- 
ing exactly  with  a.d.  1500,  and  the  following  year  Isma'il 
attacked  and  took  the  city  of  Tabriz,  obliging  Alvend,  the 
grandson  of  Usuncassan  [Hasan  Beg]  who  reigned  there, 
to  flee  and  shut  himself  up  in  Baghdad  ;  but  that  sultan  was 
forced  to  leave  that  city  also  and  take  refuge  in  Diarbekir, 
where  he  died,  a.h.  910,  and  Baghdad  fell  into  the  hands 
of  Isma'il. 

"  In  a.h.  908,  [a.d.  1052,]  Isma'il  Shah,  after  making 
himself  master  of  Tabriz,  Media,  and  Chaldea,  turned 
his  arms  against  Persia,  where  another  grandson  of  Usun- 
cassan reigned,  named  Murad  Beg,  or  'Amrath  son  of 
Ya'acub  Beg.  This  prince,  finding  himself  vigorously  at- 
tacked by  his  adversary,  wished  to  decide  the  contest  by  a 
general  engagement.  Leaving  Shiraz  with  that  object,  he 
marched  towards  Hamadan,  where  the  battle  took  place, 
wherein  he  was  overcome  and  obliged  to  flee  to  Baghdad, 
as  his  cousin  Alvend  had  done  before  him. 

"  In  a.h.  909,  [a.d.  1503,]  Isma'il  having  besieged  Murad 
in  Baghdad,  the  latter  took  to  flight,  and  running  from  one 
province  to  another  was  ultimately  slain  by  the  soldiers  of 

1  Bibliotkeque  Orientate,  sub  voce  Ismael. 


The  disturbed  state  of  the  country  consequent  on 
these  intestine  politico- religious  contests  may  reason- 
ably be  inferred,  and  as  they  were  at  their  height 
during  Varthema's  sojourn  in  Persia,  his  incidental 
notice  of  them,  as  interrupting  his  journey  to  Samar- 
cand,  is  entitled  to  be  regarded  as  a  strong  internal 
proof  of  the  truthfulness  of  his  narrative. 

The  Persian  merchant  became  so  much  attached 
to  our  traveller  during  the  abortive  attempt  to  reach 
Samarcand,  that  on  their  return  to  Shiraz  he  inti- 
mated to  the  latter  his  intention  of  giving  him  the 
hand  of  his  niece,  who  was  called  "  Samis,  that  is,  the 
Sun,"  and  so  far  transgressed  Mussulman  etiquette  in 
his  favour  as  to  present  him  personally  to  the  damsel, 
with  whom  Varthema  "pretended  to  be  much  pleased, 
although  his  mind  was  intent  on  other  things."  He 
tells  us,  however,  that  his  destined  bride  was  "  ex- 
tremely beautiful,  and  had  a  name  which  suited  her  ;" 
and  lest  the  designation  should  be  considered  a  mis- 
nomer, it  must  be  remembered  that  the  Sun  takes 
the  feminine  gender  in  most  of  the  oriental  languages. 

Starting  afresh  from  Shiraz,  the  two  travellers 
reached  Hormuz,  where  they  embarked  for  India, 
and  in  due  course  anchored  "  at  a  port  which  is 
called  Cheo,  near  to  a  very  large  river  called  the 
Indus,  which  Indus  is  near  a  city  called  Combeia." 
Faulty  as  Varthema's  geography  is  of  that  part  of 
the  coast,  there  is  no  difficulty  in  identifying  his 
"  Cheo"  with  Joah,  or  Kow,  a  village  on  one  of  the 
estuaries  of  the  Indus  about  four  miles  from  the  sea, 
which  is  still  frequented  by  native  boats  trading  with 


Scind.  His  account  of  Cambay,  however,  which  is 
the  next  port  gained, — of  the  city  ;  its  situation 
near  another  river  (the  Myhee;)  the  produce  of  the 
district,  comprising  abundance  of  grain,  "  an  im- 
mense quantity  of  cotton"  and  manufactured  silk 
stuffs,  with  which  between  forty  and  fifty  vessels 
were  laden  every  year  ;  and  the  cornelians  and  chal- 
cedonies for  which  Cambay  is  still  famous ; — in  all 
these  particulars  his  description  is  as  applicable  now 
as  it  was  then.  Moreover,  the  extraordinary  tides 
called  the  Bore,  which  prevail  in  the  Gulf  of  Cam- 
bay,  are  recognizable  in  his  remarks  on  that  subject, 
although  he  erroneously  makes  the  waters  "  rise  in 
the  reverse  of  ours,"  that  is,  "  when  the  moon  is  on 
the  wane." 

Before  accompanying  our  author  any  farther,  it 
may  serve  to  illustrate  his  subsequent  progress,  and 
obviate  needless  repetition,  if  we  take  a  general  view 
of  the  political  state  of  Western  India  at  this  period. 

Till  the  end  of  the  fourteenth  century,  Guzerat 
was  a  dependency  of  the  Affghan  or  Ghori  empire 
of  Hindustan,  -and  in  a.d.  1391  Nasir-ed-Din  Mu- 
hammed  Shah  bin  Firuz  Shah,  the  ruling  emperor, 
appointed  Dhafir  Khan  viceroy  over  that  province  ; 
but  the  disorders  which  subsequently  ensued  among 
the  successors  of  Firuz  Shah  induced  Dhafir  Khan  to 
throw  off  his  allegiance  to  the  court  of  Delhi,  and  in 
1408  he  declared  himself  independent  under  the  title 
of  Muzaffir  Shah.  Three  years  later,  he  was  poisoned 
by  his  grandson  Ahmed  Shah,  who  succeeded  him  on 
the  throne  of  Guzerat,  and  the  sovereignty  continued 


in  the  same  family  till  the  accession  of  Mahmud  Shah, 
snrnamed  Bigarrah,  who  was  the  reigning  sultan  when 
Varthema  reached  Cambay. 

The  next  native  state  with  which  onr  narrative 
brings  us  in  contact  is  the  Mussulman  kingdom  of 
the  Deccan,  comprising  several  dependencies  in  the 
Concan,  of  which  the  principal  appear  to  have  been 
Dabul  and  Goa,  ruled  by  tributary  governors,  and 
extending  as  far  south  on  the  coast  as  the  vicinity  of 
Varthema's  "  Bathacala."  Towards  the  end  of  the 
fifteenth  century,  the  different  principalities  forming 
this  kingdom  were  still  subject  to  the  Bahmani 
sultans  of  Kalberga,  or  Ahsunabad,  a  dynasty  founded 
by  'Ala-ed-Din  Bahmani,  a  servant  at  the  court  of 
Muhammed  Shah  Toghlak,  the  Ghori  Emperor  of 
Hindustan,  who  about  a.d.  1347  conquered  all  the 
Deccan  and  established  his  capital  at  Kalberga.  But 
during  the  reign  of  Mahmud  Shah  II.,  (a.d.  1482 — 
1518,)  the  fourteenth  of  the  Bahmani  dynasty,  the 
territories  of  this  state  were  divided  by  the  revolt  of 
several  of  its  subordinate  governors :  Fath'-Allah 
Tmad  Khan,  of  Berar,  appropriated  that  province ; 
Ahmed  Nizam  Shah,  of  Ahmednagar,  followed  his 
example  ;  Kasim  Berid,  the  Shah's  minister,  made 
himself  master  of  Bidar,  or  Ahmedabad  ;  and  Yusuf 
'Adil  Khan  seized  upon  Bijapur.  The  latter  per- 
sonage was  the  reputed  son  of  Murad  II.  of  Anatolia, 
who  on  the  accession  of  his  elder  brother  Muhammed, 
and  while  yet  a  child,  was  sent  secretly  into  Persia 
by  his  mother  to  escape  the  law  which  ordained  that 
only  one  son  of  the  reigning  family  should  be  suffered 


to  live.  Brought  up  until  sixteen  years  old  among 
the  disciples  of  the  famous  Sheikh  Sufi,  he  subse- 
quently determined  to  try  his  fortune  in  Hindustan, 
became  one  of  the  body-guard  in  the  royal  house- 
hold at  Kalberga,  and  eventually  governor  of  Bijapur. 
Taking  advantage  of  the  dissensions  which  arose  at 
that  period  in  the  Bahmani  empire,  and  supported  by 
a  strong  party  in  the  state,  he  assumed  independence 
with  the  title  of  'Adil  Shah.  This  event  occurred  in 
a.d.  1501,  and  as  his  reign  lasted  for  ten  years,  he  is 
undoubtedly  the  "  King  of  the  Deccan"  referred  to 
by  Varthema  in  his  description  of  Bijapur. 

After  passing  the  maritime  provinces  of  Bijapur, 
our  narrative  brings  us  into  the  territories  of  Bijaya- 
nagar,  which  at  the  period  under  review  comprised 
several  tributary  dependencies  on  the  Western  coast 
extending  from  Bathacala,  or  Bathcal,  near  or  iden- 
tical with  the  more  modern  town  of  Sedashevaghur,on 
the  north,  and  Mangalore  on  the  south.  This  Brah- 
minical  kingdom  of  the  Carnatic,  having  its  capital 
at  Bijayanagar  on  the  Toongabudra,  and  which  in 
more  ancient  times  included  the  greater  part  of  the 
peninsula,  had  been  deprived  of  several  of  its  pro- 
vinces by  the  encroachments  of  the  Mussulman 
sovereigns  of  the  Deccan  ;  nevertheless,  at  the  be- 
ginning of  the  sixteenth  century  it  was  still  a  power- 
ful state,  and  exercised  jurisdiction  over  a  number  of 
tributary  rajahs  on  the  Coromandel  coast  as  far  north 
as  the  Kistnah.  At  that  time,  the  affairs  of  the 
kingdom  were  administered  by  Ramraj,  whose  ac- 
cession to  the  regency  is  thus  narrated  by  Ferishta:  — 


"  The  government  of  Beejanuggur  had  remained  in 
one  family,  in  uninterrupted  succession,  for  seven 
hundred  years  ;  when  Seeroy  dying  was  succeeded 
by  his  son,  a  minor,  who  did  not  live  long  after  him, 
and  left  the  throne  to  a  younger  brother.  He  also 
had  not  long  gathered  the  flowers  of  enjoyment  from 
the  garden  of  royalty,  before  the  cruel  skies,  proving 
their  inconstancy,  burned  up  the  earth  of  his  exist- 
ence with  the  blasting  winds  of  annihilation.  Being 
succeeded  by  an  infant,  only  three  months  old, 
Heemraaje,  one  of  the  principal  ministers  of  the 
family,  celebrated  for  great  wisdom  and  experience, 
became  sole  regent,  and  was  cheerfully  obeyed  by  all 
the  vassals  of  the  kingdom  for  forty  years  ;  though, 
on  the  arrival  of  the  young  king  at  the  age  of  man- 
hood, he  had  poisoned  him,  and  put  an  infant  of  his 
family  on  the  throne,  in  order  to  have  a  pretence  for 
keeping  the  regency  in  his  hands.  Heemraaje  at  his 
death  was  succeeded  in  office  by  his  son  Ramraaje, 
who  having  married  a  daughter  of  Seeroy,  by  that 
alliance  greatly  added  to  his  influence  and  power. 
By  degrees,  raising  his  own  family  to  the  highest 
ranks,  and  destroying  the  ancient  nobility  by  various 
intrigues,  he  at  length  aspired  to  reign  in  his  own 
name,  and  totally  to  extirpate  the  family  of  Seeroy."1 
This  Ramraaje,  or  RamraV),  was  the  person  whom  Var- 
thema  designates  as  "  the  king  of  Narsinga"  in  the 
account  of  his  visit  to  Bijayanagar. 

Adjoining  the  littoral  provinces  of  the  latter,  on 
the  south,  was   the   small  independent  rajahship  of 

1  Scott's  Fcrishta,  vol.  i.  p.  262. 


Cannanore,  beyond  which  began  the  kingdom  of  the 
Tamuri  Rajah,  commonly  called  the  Zamorin,  whose 
territories  extended  as  far  south  as  Fonani,  and  who 
appears  to  have  exercised  certain  rights  of  suzerainty 
over  the  contiguous  state  of  Cochin.  The  origin  of 
the  preeminence  of  the  Zamorin,  as  collected  from 
the  early  Portuguese  historians,  is  as  follows : — 
"  About  600  years  ago,  Malabar  was  all  united  under 
one  prince,  whose  name  was  Sarana  Perimal.  In  his 
time,  the  Moors  (Arabs)  of  Mekka  discovered  the 
Indies  ;  and  coming  to  Koulan,  [Quilon,]  which  was 
then  the  royal  seat,  the  king  was  so  taken  with  their 
religion,  that  not  content  with  turning  Mohammedan, 
he  determined  to  go  on  a  pilgrimage  to  Mekka,  and 
there  spend  the  remainder  of  his  life.  Before  his 
departure,  he  divided  his  dominions  among  his  kin- 
dred, reserving  only  twelve  leagues  of  land  lying  near 
the  sea.  This,  just  before  he  embarked,  he  gave  to 
his  page,  who  was  a  relation,  ordering  it  to  be  in- 
habited, in  remembrance  of  his  embarking  there. 
He  also  gave  him  a  sword  and  his  cap  as  ensigns  of 
state,  and  commanded  all  the  other  princes,  among 
whom  he  had  divided  his  territories,  to  acknowledge 
him  as  their  Samorin  or  Emperor,  except  the  kings 
of  Koulan  and  Kananor ;  but  forbid  all  to  coin 
money  but  this  Emperor.  After  this,  he  embarked 
where  Kalekut  now  stands:  on  which  account  the 
Moors  took  so  great  an  affection  to  the  place,  that 
thenceforward  they  deserted  the  port  of  Koulan,  and 
would  never  since  lade  goods  at  any  but  that  of 
Kalekut,  which  by  this  means  became  the  greatest 


mart  in  all  India  for  all  sorts  of  spices,  drugs,  precious 
stones,  silks,  calicoes,  silver,  gold,  and  other  com- 
modities."1 Varthema's  account  of  the  predominant 
authority  exercised  by  the  Zamorin  on  the  Malabar 
coast,  coincides  generally  with  the  foregoing,  and 
with  all  other  writers  on  the  subject. 

Passing  down  the  coast,  our  narrative  brings  us  to 
Quilon,  which  it  describes  as  the  capital  of  an  inde- 
pendent Hindu  rajahship,  comprising  the  maritime 
districts  as  far  as  Cape  Comorin  on  the  south,  and 
extending  beyond  that  cape  to  "  Chayl "  towards  the 

Intermitting  any  further  notice  of  the  prevailing 
government  on  the  Coromandel  coast,  which,  as  has 
already  been  stated,  was  ruled  generally  by  deputies 
subject  to  the  Rajah  of  Bijayanagar,  the  only  Indian 
kingdom  remaining  to  be  noticed  is  that  of  Bengal. 
Incorporated  towards  the  end  of  the  twelfth  century 
with  the  Ghori  or  Patan  empire  of  Hindustan, 
Bengal  was  formed  into  a  separate  province  under 
Kutb  ed-Din,  the  second  Emperor,  and  placed  under 
the  administration  of  Muhammed  Bakhtiar  Khilji, 
governor  of  Berar,  who  is  considered  as  the  first 
Sultan  of  the  Purbi  dynasty.  According  to  some 
authors,  Bengal  threw  off  its  allegiance  to  the  Em- 
pire under  Nasir  ed-Din  Baghra  about  the  end  of 
the  fourteenth  century  ;  whilst  others  postpone  its 
sovereignty  to  the  reign  of  Fakhr  ed-Din  Iskandar, 
who  is  said  to  have  assumed  independence  a.d.  1840. 

The  succession  continued  in  the  same  family  till 

1  Greene's  Collection  of  Voyages  and  Travels,  vol.  i.  p.  29. 


the  province  was  subjugated  by  Akbar  in  1573,  and 
at  the  period  of  Varthema's  visit  the  reigning  Sultan 
was  'Ala  ed-Din  Husein  Shah  bin  Seyyed  Ashraf, 
who  held  his  court  at  Lucknouti  or  Gour,  situated  on 
the  left  bank  of  the  Ganges,  about  twenty-five  miles 
below  Rajemal. 

We  must  now  return  to  our  traveller  whom  we 
left  at  Cambay.  His  account  of  the  Jains  of  Guzerat, 
and  of  the  habits  and  customs  of  the  Joghi  ascetics, 
is  as  interesting  as  it  is  accurate,  while  his  description 
of  the  person  of  the  reigning  sovereign  supplies 
another  remarkable  instance  of  his  great  observation 
and  veracity  : — "  The  said  Sultan  has  mustachios 
under  his  nose  so  long  that  he  ties  them  over  his 
head  as  a  woman  would  tie  her  tresses."  According 
to  'Ali  Muhammed  Khan,  the  historian  of  Guzerat, 
Sultan  Mahmud  received  his  surname  of  "  Bigarrah," 
the  name  applied  to  a  cow  with  twisted  horns, 
because  his  mustachios  were  long  and  curled  in  a 
similar  way. 

From  Cambay  the  travellers  sailed  along  the  coast 
to  Chaul  in  the" Northern  Concan,  and  then  to  Goa, 
from  whence  they  started  to  Bijapur,  which  Varthema 
styles,  after  the  province,  the  "  city  of  Decan,"  where 
they  arrived  in  seven  days.  His  description  of  this 
capital, — of  its  inhabitants,  the  splendour  of  the 
the  Sultan's  court,  the  magnificence  of  his  palace,  his 
military  prowess,  and  the  number  of  foreign  merce- 
naries enrolled  in  his  army,  as  also  his  wars  with  the 
neighbouring  Rajah  of  Bijayanagar, — is  fully  cor- 
roborated by  the  history  of  the  times  as  recorded  by 


Ferishta,  as  well  as  by  the  monuments  of  its  former 
extent  and  grandeur  which  still  mark  the  site  of  the 
once  famous  city  of  Bijapiir. 

Returning  to  the  coast,  our  travellers  touched  at 
Bathcal,  Uncola,  and  Honahwar,  in  North  Canara, — 
places  of  greater  trade  then  than  they  are  now, — from 
whence  they  proceeded  to  Cannanore,  where  Var- 
thema  mentions  the  presence  of  the  Portuguese,  who 
had  arrived  three  years  prior  to  his  visit :  the  first 
occasion  being  that  of  Cabral  in  1501,  and  the  next 
of  any  importance  that  of  Vasco  de  Gama  in  1503, 
when  he  obtained  permission  to  establish  a  factory  in 
the  harbour.  It  is  noticeable  that  our  author  appears 
to  have  eschewed  all  intercourse  with  the  resident 
Europeans  at  this  time,  though  Cannanore  was 
eventually  the  place  where  he  sought  their  protec- 
tion. He  was  evidently  not  yet  tired  of  his  adven- 
turous mode  of  life,  and  his  assumed  profession  of 
Islam  might  have  been  suspected  by  his  companion, 
and  his  future  aim  thereby  thwarted,  had  he  estab- 
lished amicable  relations  with  the  Portuguese. 

Fifteen  days'  journey  inland  from  Cannanore 
brought  the  travellers  to  Bijayanagar,  where  they 
remained  some  time.  After  describing  the  city,  its 
noble  site,  and  the  hunting  grounds  in  the  neighbour- 
hood, our  author's  narrative  is  taken  up  with  a  full 
account  of  the  elephants  maintained  by  the  Rajah, 
detailing  the  various  uses  to  which  they  were  applied, 
their  armour  when  employed  in  war,  their  surprising 
intelligence,  and  the  manner  of  their  propagation. 
He  also  gives  the  names  of  the  different  coins  cur- 



rent  in  the  country,  with  their  relative  value,  on 
comparing  which  with  a  similar  list  supplied  by  the 
Arabian  traveller  'Abd  er-Razzak  sixty  years  before, 
some  changes  appear  to  have  been  made  in  the 
interval  in  the  silver  and  copper  money;  but  the  gold 
coinage  had  undergone  no  alteration,  unless  it  was 
the  withdrawal  of  the  Vardha,  or  Double  Pagoda, 
from  circulation. 

Returning  to  Cannanore,  the  party  proceeded  along 
the  coast  to  Tormapatani,  Pandarani,  and  Capogatto. 
The  first  of  these  places  is  undoubtedly  the  "  Dorma- 
patam "  of  Hamilton,  situated  near  the  Tellicherry 
river.  The  two  last  I  have  been  unable  to  identify 
satisfactorily  with  the  names  of  any  existing  towns ; 
but  they  are  distinctly  mentioned  by  Bakkeus  as 
occurring  between  Cannanore  and  Calicut,  and  appear 
to  have  occupied  the  sites  of  Hamilton's  "  Burgara  " 
and  "  Cottica,"  answering  to  the  "  Bergara "  and 
"  Cotta  "  of  D'Anville,  and  the  "  Vadacurry  "  and 
"  Kotacull "  of  Buchanan  and  Arrowsmith.  Vasco 
de  Gama  landed  at  this  Pandarani,  (which  must  not 
be  confounded  with  a  place  which  then  bore  a  similar 
name,  to  the  south  of  Calicut,  but  now7  called  Ponani,) 
when  he  paid  his  first  visit  to  the  Zamorin. 

Our  adventurers  made  a  long  stay  at  Calicut,  and 
an  entire  book  of  Varthema's  narrative  is  taken  up 
with  reminiscences  of  the  memorable  things  observed 
there.  Its  topography,  trade,  agriculture,  animal 
and  vegetable  productions,  the  court  and  state  of  the 
Zamorin,  the  administration  of  justice,  the  Brahmins, 
the  religion  of  its  inhabitants,  their  every-day  worship 


and  funeral  services,  their  division  into  castes,  the 
influence  acquired  there  by  the  foreign  and  native 
Muhammedans,  their  mode  of  navigation  and  war- 
fare,—all  these  subjects  are  treated  of  in  detail, 
and  with  more  than  ordinary  care,  forming  together 
a  most  complete  domestic  history  of  what  he  calls 
"  the  place  of  the  greatest  dignity  in  India."  Bearing 
in  mind  that  all  this  matter  is  original,  and  that 
many  of  the  particulars  noted  were  communicated  to 
Europe  for  the  first  time  through  our  author's 
writings,  one  cannot  but  express  surprise  at  the  extent 
of  his  observation  and  the  depth  of  his  researches. 
What  strikes  us  most  is  the  generally  clear  insight 
which  he  obtained  into  some  of  the  abstruse  doctrines 
of  Hinduism,  and  the  correct  account  which  he  gives  of 
the  modeof  succession  to  the  sovereignty, the  oligarchy 
of  the  Nairs,  and  the  distinctions  between  the  sub- 
ordinate castes  down  to  the  half  savage  Poiilias  or 
Poulichees.  Not  less  remarkable  is  his  description  of 
the  extraordinary  relations,  sanctioned  by  usage  if 
not  by  law,  existing  between  the  Nambouris,  or 
highest  caste,  and  the  wife  or  wives  of  the  Zamorin, 
which,  coupled  with  the  picture  which  he  draws  of 
the  polyandry  prevailing  among  the  JSTairs,  reveals  a 
state  of  social  depravity  as  revolting  as  it  is  lament- 
ably true. 

Through  what  medium  did  Varthema  acquire  all 
this  information,  so  diffuse  in  detail  and  yet  so 
authentic  1  He  had  no  books  of  reference,  and  his 
prejudiced  Mussulman  companions  alone  would  un- 
doubtedly have  led  him  into  frequent  misrepresenta- 




tioiis  regarding  the  Kafirs.  The  only  inference  we 
can  draw  is,  that  he  did  not  confine  his  inquiries  to 
them,  but  associated  familiarly  with  the  Hindus  also, 
and,  being  endowed  with  uncommon  perspicacity, 
was  enabled  to  separate  the  true  from  the  false,  and 
to  present  us  with  a  narrative  almost  unrivalled  for 
originality  of  investigation  and  accuracy  of  statement 
among  the  published  travels  of  his  age.  Moreover, 
how  did  he  compile  his  book  ?  Did  he  keep  a  jour- 
nal, noting  down  day  by  day  his  acquired  experience, 
or  did  he  trust  to  recollection  alone  ?  If  the  latter, 
the  retentiveness  of  his  memory  would  not  be  the 
least  qualification  for  the  task  which  he  accomplished 
with  such  surprising  exactness. 

The  suspension  of  trade  at  Calicut,  owing  to  the 
hostile  proceedings  of  the  Portuguese  on  the  coast, 
was  a  serious  drawback  to  Cogiazenor's  mercantile 
speculations,  apparently  causing  him  and  Varthema 
to  leave  the  place  sooner  than  they  had  otherwise 
intended.  In  describing  their  onward  progress,  the 
latter  says :  "  We  departed  and  took  our  road  by  a 
river,  which  is  the  most  beautiful  I  ever  saw,  and 
arrived  at  a  city  called  Cacolon,  distant  from  Calicut 
fifty  leagues."  This  river  was  unquestionably  what 
is  known  to  sailors  as  the  "  Backwater  of  Cochin," 
formed  by  the  inland  confluence  of  different  streams 
with  the  numerous  estuaries  along  the  coast,  by 
which,  especially  during  the  rainy  monsoon,  naviga- 
tion is  practicable  in  a  line  parallel  with  the  shore. 
It  seems  very  likely  that  the  journey  was  continued 
by  the   same  mode  of  conveyance  as  far  as  Quilon, 


for  Varthema  tells  us,  in  a  subsequent  part  of  his 
narrative,  that  they  went  from  that  place  to  Calicut 
by  this  same  "  river"  on  their  return  from  the  Indian 
Archipelago.  "  Cacolon,"  the  modern  Kayan  Kulam, 
and  the  Coilcoiloan  of  Hamilton,  is  described  by  the 
latter,  in  his  time  (1688 — 1723)  as  "  a  little  princi- 
pality contiguous  to  Porkah,"  which  our  author  calls 
"  the  island  of  Porcai,"  probably  from  its  being  almost 
insulated  by  the  "  Backwater  of  Cochin."  At  Kayan 
Kulam  he  fell  in  with  the  "  Christians  of  St.  Thomas," 
or  Nestorians,  the  ancestors  of  the  native  Christian 
community  still  existing  in  Malabar,  and  notices 
briefly  some  of  their  ritual  differences  from  the 
Church  of  Rome.  Quilon,  the  town  next  gained, 
and  which  Varthema  calls  "  Colon,"  he  describes  as 
fertile  in  fruits  but  not  in  grain,  and  speaks  of  the 
king  as  being  very  powerful,  and  a  great  friend  of 
the  Portuguese,  which  is  true,  for  they  had  obtained 
permission  to  settle  a  factory  there  two  years  prior  to 
his  visit. 

Leaving  Quilon,  our  travellers  rounded  Cape  Co- 
morin,  and  proceeded  in  a  north-easterly  direction  to 
"  Chayl,"  noticing  by  the  way  the  pearl-fishery  near 
Tuticorin.  Chayl,  I  take  to  represent  the  "  Calligi- 
cura"  of  Pliny,  and  the  "  Kolkhi"  of  the  author  of 
the  Periplus,  and  appears  to  have  been  situated  near 
the  promontory  forming  one  side  of  the  Pamban 
Passage.1      Their  next  voyage  was    to    the   city   of 

1  I  have  identified  it  with  Barbosa's  "  Cael,"  which  he  locates 
on  the  mainland  "  after  passing  the  province  of  Quilicare  [Killi- 
karai]  towards  the  north-east,"  and  also  with  Hamilton's  "  Coil," 
(see  note  I,  on  p.  184);  but  I  do  not  find  the  name  in  that  neigh- 


"  Cioromandel,"  "  distant  from  Colon  seven  days' 
journey  by  sea,  more  or  less,  according  to  the  wind," 
and  subject  to  the  Rajah  of  Bijayanagar.  From 
the  indications  given,  I  presume  this  to  be  Nega- 
patam,  though,  if  right  in  the  conjecture,  it  was  a 
place  of  greater  commercial  importance  then  than 
it  is  now.  Departing  thence,  and  passing  a  gulf 
where  there  were  many  rocks  and  shoals,  (the  Palk 
Strait,)  they  reached  Ceylon,  and  from  Varthema's 
description  of  the  locality  as  being  situated  near  a 
large  river,  surrounded  by  cinnamon-plantations,  and 
in  the  neighbourhood  of  high  mountains,  I  infer  that 
they  landed  at  Colombo.  Though  their  stay  here 
was  short,  owing  to  some  jealousy  of  Cogiazenor  on 
the  part  of  a  resident  Arab  merchant,  our  author 
managed  to  collect  a  considerable  amount  of  general 
information  respecting  the  island.  He  mentions  the 
intestine  wars  which  prevailed  between  four  rival 
kings, — a  fact  corroborated  by  Sir  J.  E.  Tennent  and 
other  historians ;  the  various  gems  found  there  ;  the 
cultivation  of  cinnamon  ;  Adam's  Peak,  and  the  tra- 
dition associated  with  it  among  Mussulmans ;  the 
dress  of  the  people,  their  ignorance  of  fire-arms,  and 
the  weapons  in  use  among  them,  with  which,  how- 
ever, "  they  did  not  kill  each  other  overmuch,  because 
they  are  cowardly  fellows." 

Three  days'  sail  from  Ceylon  brought  our  party 

bourhood  in  any  of  the  modern  maps.  Colonel  Yule  identifies 
Burbosa's  Cael  with  a  Coilpatam  near  the  Tinnevelly  river;  but  I 
think  that  position  is  too  far  south  to  correspond  with  Varthema's 
"  Chayl."      tSce  Friar  Jordanus,  p.  40. 


to  "  Paleachet,"  the  modern  Pulicat,  about  twenty- 
two  miles  north  of  Madras,  then  subject  to  the  Nar- 
singa,  or  Rajah  of  Bijayanagar.  The  neighbouring 
district  is  represented  as  abounding  in  grain,  and  the 
port  as  largely  frequented  by  "  Moorish"  merchants. 
Varthema  also  mentions  that  "  the  country  was  at 
fierce  war  w7ith  the  king  of  Tarnasseri," — a  statement 
which  I  have  been  utterly  unable  either  to  question 
or  to  confirm  for  want  of  any  historical  records,  known 
to  me,  of  any  such  international  hostile  relations 
between  the  rulers  on  the  Coromandel  coast  and 
those  of  the  Burmese  peninsula. 

Before  accompanying  our  travellers  from  the  shores 
of  Hindustan,  I  venture  to  submit  a  few  brief  obser- 
vations on  the  narrative  under  review,  as  far  as  it 
treats  of  that  continent. 

Notwithstanding  the  civil  wars  which  prevailed 
at  the  time,  the  external  commerce  of  the  country, 
except  in  the  single  instance  attributed  to  the  pro- 
ceedings of  the  Portuguese  fleet  off  Calicut,  appears 
to  have  been  carried  on  without  interruption,  and  to 
have  been  subject  to  no  restrictions  beyond  the  levy 
of  a  fixed  customs  duty  at  the  place  of  entry  or  em- 
barkation. Moreover,  foreign  merchants  residing  at 
the  seaports,  or  periodically  visiting  them,  seem  to 
have  enjoyed  perfect  immunity  in  person  and  property, 
to  have  been  under  the  special  protection  of  the  local 
authorities,  and  were  withal  wholly  free  in  the  exer- 
cise of  their  religion.  The  principal  seaports  on  the 
western  side  were  Cambay  and  Calicut;  on  the  Coro- 
mandel coast,  Negapatam,  Pulicat,  and  Masulipatam; 


and,  farther  cast,  Banghella  near  the  eastern  month 
of  the  Ganges,  and  Satgong  on  the  Hooghly ;  but 
between  these  were  numerous  subordinate  depots, 
occupied  originally  on  account  of  their  harbours,  and 
as  affording  more  direct  communication  with  different 
points  in  the  interior,  which  were  much  frequented  not 
only  by  coasting  craft,  but  by  vessels  engaged  in  the 
foreign  trade.  Many  of  these  ports,  some  of  which 
were  selected  for  factories  by  the  early  European 
traders  to  India,  have  been  abandoned,  and  even  the 
names  of  a  few  of  those  mentioned  by  Varthema  have 
disappeared  from  the  modern  maps.  One  cause  of  this 
is  doubtless  assignable  to  a  considerable  share  of  the 
external  commerce,  in  which  a  great  many  native 
boats  were  engaged,  having  been  diverted  from  the 
lied  Sea  and  Persian  Gulf  to  the  route  via  the  Cape 
of  Good  Hope.  The  larger  vessels  employed  in  that 
transport  required  deeper  anchorage,  and  sought  the 
most  eligible  harbours,  whither  the  trade  followed 
them  ;  whilst  the  gradual  absorption  of  the  native 
states  by  the  British  Government  tended  still  further 
to  promote  commercial  centralization.  That  the 
trade  of  the  country  has  progressively  increased  is 
certain ;  nevertheless,  it  may  fairly  be  questioned 
whether  it  would  not  have  increased  in  a  higher 
ratio  had  good  roads  been  more  generally  substituted 
for  those  numerous  outlets  on  the  coast  which,  by 
the  combined  operation  of  the  causes  aforesaid,  were 
eventually  disused  and  forsaken.  This  conjectural 
inference  is  confirmed  by  the  fact,  that  notwith- 
standing the  efforts  which  have  been  made  of  late 


years  to  facilitate  inland  intercommunication,  the 
desirableness  of  adding  to  the  existing  harbours  has 
originated  several  schemes  for  improving  several  of 
the  old  ports  and  for  creating  new  ones. 

Another  inference  deducible  from  our  narrative  is 
the  uniform  prosperity  which  prevailed  among  the 
inhabitants.  Excepting  the  case  of  the  outcast 
Poulias  of  Malabar,  the  different  classes  of  the  popu- 
lation appear  to  have  been  in  a  thriving  condition, 
and  we  read  of  no  systematic  oppression  on  the  part 
of  their  rulers.  These,  and  the  higher  ranks  of  the 
community,  are  represented  as  being  very  opulent; 
but  their  riches  served  to  support  large  establish- 
ments of  retainers,  and  being  wholly  expended  in 
the  country  contributed  to  promote  the  general 
well-being  of  the  people.  It  may  fairly  be  doubted, 
indeed,  whether  in  this  respect  the  natives  of  India, 
on  the  whole,  have  benefited  by  their  subjection  to 
British  rule.  Larger  fortunes  are  perhaps  amassed 
by  private  individuals,  but  the  domestic  changes 
which  a  different  system  of  government  has  intro- 
duced have  closed  many  of  the  outlets  through 
which  the  wealth  of  the  few  found  its  way  among 
the  many  ;  besides  which,  no  insignificant  portion  of 
the  incomes  realized  in  the  country  is  now  taken  out 
of  it  and  disposed  of  elsewhere.  In  consequence  of 
this  altered  state  of  things,  property  is  becoming 
more  unequally  distributed,  and  the  native  popula- 
tion is  gradually  assimilating  itself  to  the  European 
model.  It  remains  for  the  future  to  decide  whether 
the  results  in  the  East  will  correspond  with  the 
workings  of  the  social  organism  of  the  West. 


Varthema's  reiterated  encomium  on  the  impartial 
administration  of  justice,  wherein  he  corroborates  the 
testimony  of  ancient  Greek  and  Roman  authors, 
reveals  another  striking  feature  in  the  Indian  polity 
at  this  period.  That  no  declension,  in  that  respect, 
has  resulted  from  the  supersession  of  the  old  native 
tribunals  by  British  legislation  cannot  be  doubted ; 
nevertheless,  the  two  systems  are  frequently  con- 
trasted by  the  people  to  the  decided  disparagement 
of  the  latter.  The  chief  defect  complained  of,  how- 
ever, is  the  comparative  tardiness  of  our  law ;  for 
under  the  oriental  mode  of  procedure,  punishment 
follows  hard  on  the  offence,  and  cases  are  disposed  of 
without  the  intervention  of  those  intricate  forms  and 
delays,  and  without  the  heavy  fees,  which  seem  in- 
separable from  a  British  law  court.  There  are,  un- 
questionably, many  among  the  better  informed  natives 
who  appreciate  the  even  and  solid  justice  ultimately 
aimed  at  and  dispensed ;  but  the  masses  revert  with 
regret  to  the  good  old  days  when  awards  were 
attainable  in  much  less  time,  and  at  far  less  cost, 
than  at  present. '  This  subject  reminds  me  of  a  wealthy 
Arab  pearl  merchant  from  the  Persian  Gulf,  whom 
I  met  at  Maskat  upwards  of  two  years  ago,  and  who 
occasionally  formed  one  of  a  party  of  evening  visitors 
whose  opinions  I  frequently  endeavoured  to  elicit  on 
points  connected  with  British  policy  in  the  East. 
The  theme  under  discussion  was  the  administration 
of  justice  in  India,  in  the  course  of  which  the  Arab 
merchant,  who  was  well  acquainted  with  Bombay, 
spoke  as  follows,  as  nearly  as  I  can  remember  his 


words: — "There  can  be  no  doubt  that  the  government 
of  the  English  is  the  best  in  the  world,  and  no 
Eastern  government  can  be  compared  to  it.  Their 
law  too  is  excellent,  and  their  judges  and  magistrates 
incorruptible ;  still,  there  are  serious  drawbacks  in 
the  way  of  obtaining  justice.  Knowing  this  by 
experience,  I  long  forbore  pressing  a  case  against  a 
man  who  was  indebted  to  me  to  a  large  amount ;  but 
a  Parsee  acquaintance  eventually  persuaded  me  to  put 
myself  into  the  hands  of  an  English  lawyer  who,  he 
was  sure,  would  get  my  claim  settled  promptly  and 
economically,  and  moreover  gave  me  a  note  of  intro- 
duction to  his  legal  adviser.  Thanking  him  for  his 
courtesy,  but  still  wary  of  the  machinery  of  the  law, 
I  took  the  note  to  a  Banyan  and  begged  him  to  read 
it  for  me.     It  contained  this  sentence  : — '  My  dear 

,  I  send  you  a  good  fat  cow ;  milk  him  well.' 

I  need  not  tell  you  that  my  suspicions  were  con- 
firmed, and  that  I  preferred  a  voluntary  compromise 
with  my  debtor,  to  an  involuntary  milking  at  the 
hands  of  the  English  advocate."  The  anecdote, 
whether  true  or  fabricated,  is  illustrative  of  a  very 
common  notion  among  the  natives  respecting  the 
obstacles  in  the  way  of  securing  prompt  justice  from 
a  British  court  of  law  in  India. 

It  is  high  time  to  revert  to  our  travellers,  but  we 
must  leave  them  a  little  longer  in  the  house  of  the 
"  Moorish  "  merchant  at  Pulicat,  (who  was  delighted 
with  the  corals  and  saffron,  figured-velvet  and  knives, 
which  they  had  brought  for  sale,)  while  we  take  a 
cursory  glance  at  the  political  condition  of  the 
countries  whither  they  subsequently  proceeded. 

B  [MIW 


The  principal  monarchies  in  the  great  Burmese 
peninsula  at  this  period  were  those  of  Pegu  and 
Siam.  The  capital  of  the  former  was  the  city  of  the 
same  name,  and  of  the  latter,  Yiithya,  or  Odia, 
situated  on  the  river  Menam  above  the  modern 
capital  of  Bangkok.  The  kingdom  of  Pegu  appears 
to  have  comprised  the  sea-coast  as  far  as  the  fifteenth 
degree  of  south  latitude,  and  that  of  Siam  the  whole 
of  the  Malayan  peninsula,  the  maritime  districts  of 
which  were  divided  into  three  provinces,  viz.,  Tenas- 
serim,  Ligor,  and  Queda,  ruled  by  semi-independent 
viceroys,  of  whom  the  chief  was  the  viceroy  of 
Tenasserim.  It  would  seem,  however,  that  Malacca, 
though  subject  to  Siam,  formed  a  separate  jurisdic- 
tion under  a  Muhammedan  deputy,  whereas  the 
governors  of  all  the  other  provinces,  like  the  mass  of 
the  people,  were  Buddhists.  There  were  frequent 
wars  at  this  time  between  Pegu  and  Siam,  and 
between  Pegu  and  the  inland  states  of  Ava  and 
Toungoo,  which  before  the  end  of  the  sixteenth 
century  considerably  modified  the  territories  of  the 
rival  sovereigns. 

The  island  of  Sumatra  was  divided  into  several 
kingdoms,  of  which  the  principal  were  those  of  Achin 
and  Pedir,  though  it  is  not  improbable  that  the 
latter  was  tributary  to  the  former.  Most  of  the  in- 
land sovereigns  professed  Hinduism,  and  in  Var- 
thema's  time  the  king  of  Pedir  was  a  "  Pagan ;"  but 
there  were  many  "  Moors "  resident  on  the  eastern 
coast,  and  Achin  had  embraced  Islamism  as  early,  at 
least,  as  the  fourteenth  century. 


Java,  also,  was  ruled  by  a  number  of  petty  Hindu 
kings,  who  were  for  the  most  part  subject  to  a 
paramount  sovereign,  called  "  Pala-Udora  "  by  Bar- 
bosa,  who  resided  in  the  interior.  According  to  the 
same  authority,  this  personage  was  a  "  Pagan  ;"  but 
Crawfurd  assigns  a.d.  1478  as  the  date  when  the 
principal  Hindu  state  was  overthrown  by  the  Muham- 
medans.  There  were  many  "  Moors  "  settled  at  the 
different  seaports,  and  about  this  period  Islamism 
appears  to  have  been  making  rapid  progress  among 
the  inhabitants  of  the  maritime  provinces. 

Of  the  places  visited  by  our  travellers  to  the  east- 
ward of  Java,  there  is  but  little  to  be  remarked  under 
this  head.  According  to  Varthema,  the  inhabitants 
of  the  Banda  or  Nutmeg  Islands  were  "Pagans,  who 
had  no  king,  nor  even  a  governor  ;  "  Barbosa  makes 
them  Moors  and  Pagans,  and  Pigafetta,  Moors  only; 
to  which  De  Barros  adds,  that  "  they  had  neither 
king  nor  lord,  and  all  their  government  depended  on 
the  advice  of  their  elders."  The  people  of  the 
Moluccas  were  Pagans  and  Muhammeclans,  but  most 
of  the  "  kings "  were  of  the  latter  denomination. 
Barbosa  describes  one  of  these  sovereigns,  however, 
as  being  "  nearly  a  Pagan  ; "  from  which  we  may 
infer  that  the  population  generally,  as  regards  re- 
ligion, were  in  a  state  of  transition  between  heathen- 
ism and  Islam.  Of  the  prevailing  government  in 
Borneo,  we  know  scarcely  anything,  beyond  the  fact 
that  it  comprised  a  number  of  petty  independent 
states,  which  were  chiefly  subject  to  heathen  rulers. 
The  inhabitants  of  the  place  where  Varthema  landed 


were  Pagans,  as  were  those  of  the  island  generally ; 
but  Crawfurd  adduces  evidence  to  prove  that  many  of 
the  Malay  and  Javanese  settlers  had  embraced  Islam- 
ism  long  prior  to  this  period. 

Rejoining  our  travellers,  we  shall  now  proceed  to 
accompany  them  in  their  subsequent  wanderings. 
From  Pulicat,  they  sailed  to  "  Tarnassari,"  which  1 
have  found  no  difficulty  in  identifying  with  Tenas- 
serim,  although  Dr.  Vincent  was  disposed  to  locate  it 
either  at  Masulipatam,  or  between  that  place  and 
the  Ganges.  Varthema's  description  of  this  city, — 
its  situation  on  the  southern  bank  of  a  large  river, 
forming  a  good  port;  the  military  power  of  the  king, 
who  maintained  a  standing  army  of  100,000  men, 
whose  weapons  were  bows  and  lances,  swords  and 
shields,  some  of  the  latter  made  of  tortoise-shell ; 
the  animal  and  vegetable  productions  of  the  country; 
the  domestic  habits  of  the  people  generally ;]    the 

1  Varthema  describes  the  cocks  and  hens  at  Tenasserim  (p.  200) 
as  the  largest  he  ever  saw  ;  and  among  the  domestic  usages  of  the 
people,  he  speaks  of  their  eating  out  of  "  some  very  beautiful 
vessels  of  wood."  (p.  201.)  Colonel  Yule  informs  me  that  the  big 
cocks  and  hens,  and  very  handsome  vessels  of  lackered  wood,  are 
notable  features  in  Burmah  at  the  present  day.  He  also  suggests 
whether  the  word  "  Mirzel,"  which  he  has  found  applied  to  an 
Indian  dye  in  a  work  written  by  a  Dutch  author  twelve  hundred 
years  ago,  and  which  seems  to  indicate  the  brazil-wood,  one  of  the 
products  of  Tenasserim,  may  not  have  originated  the  Italian 
"  verzino,"  which  Varthema  uses  to  describe  the  dye,  but  the 
etymology  of  which  I  have  failed  to  discover.  (See  note  on  p. 
205.)  The  quotation  with  which  he  has  kindiy  supplied  me  is  as 
follows  : — "  Tinctura  quaxlam,  Mirzel  illis  dicta,  qua  panni  ele- 
gantissimo  colore  jecorario  sive  castaneo  inficiuntur."  Whereon  he 
remarks  :    "  Now,  has  the  illis  dicta  any  foundation  ?      It  might 


peculiar  dress  of  the  Brahmins,  or,  more  correctly, 
Buddhist  priests ;  the  amusement  of  cock-fighting ; 
the  concremation  of  the  dead  bodies  of  the  kings  and 
principal  Buddhists,  and  the  prevailing  practice  of 
Salt,  or  widow-burning,  with  their  attendant  rites  ; — 
all  these  subjects  are  treated  of  in  detail,  and  with  an 
accuracy  which  is  amply  confirmed  by  the  testimony 
of  subsequent  writers.  Among  the  birds  enumerated 
by  our  author,  there  is  one  "  much  larger  than  an 
eagle,"  with  a  yellow  and  red  beak,  "  a  thing  very 
beautiful  to  behold,"  the  upper  mandible  of  whicli 
was  made  into  sword-hilts.  Professor  Owen  con- 
siders that  this  parti-coloured  bill  applies  to  the 
Buceros  galeatus,  of  which  a  jewelled  bowl,  belong- 
ing to  the  crown  jewels  of  the  Ottoman  Sultan,  is 
formed ;  but  which  tradition  had  believed  to  have 
been  made  from  the  beak  of  the  fabulous  Phoenix. 

Varthema  devotes  a  whole  chapter  to  the  descrip- 
tion of  an  extraordinary  usage  among  the  people  of 
Tenasserim,  connected  with  their  marriages,  in  which 
the  concurrence  of  foreigners  was  importunately  so- 
licited, and  illustrates  it  by  the  personal  experience 
of  his  party.  Extravagant  and  obscene  as  the  custom 
is,  its  prevalence  in  the  Burmese  provinces  is  con- 
firmed by  writers  of  a  later  date,  and  evidence  is  not 
wanting  of  its  existence  up  to  a  very  recent  period. 

help  us  to  the  origin  of  the  words  brazil  and  verzino.  Drury  or 
Ainslie  would  give  the  synonymes."  I  have  searched  through 
both  writers  in  vain  for  an  Indian  name  anything  approaching  that 
of  Mirzel  either  in  form  or  sound,  and  am  therefore  inclined  to 
think  that  it  is  nothing  more  than  a  native  corruption  of  Verzino. 


A  voyage  of  eleven  days  from  Tenasserim  brought 
our  travellers  to  the  "  city  of  Banghella."  In  my 
annotations  on  the  text  (p.  210,)  I  have  inferred 
that  this  place  was  the  ancient  Gour  on  the  Ganges  ; 
but  the  following  judicious  remarks,  which  Colonel 
Yule  has  been  good  enough  to  transmit  to  me,  lead 
me  to  doubt  the  accuracy  of  that  identification.  He 
observes : — "  I  think  it  is  to  be  deduced  from  what 
Varthema  says,  that  the  '  city  of  Banghella '  was  a 
seaport,  and  therefore  could  not  be  Gour.  In  an  old 
Dutch  Latin  geography  book,  which  I  have  chanced 
on  in  the  salle  of  this  hotel,  (Hotel  Royal,  Genoa,) 
with  wonderfully  good  maps,  by  J.  and  C.  Blaen, 
(no  title  ;  date  about  16-40,  as  Charles  I.  is  spoken 
of  as  reigning,)  I  find  Bengala  put  down  as  a  town 
close  and  opposite  to  Chatigam  (Chittagong.)  I  don't 
lay  much  stress  on  this ;  but  I  suspect  it  was  either 
Chittagong,  or  Satgong  on  the  Hoogly,  which  was 
the  great  port  one  hundred  years  later,  and  also 
in  Ibn  Batuta's  time."  By  Satgong  I  presume  the 
Colonel  indicates  Ibn  Batuta's  SddMwdn,  which  the 
latter  describes  as  "  the  first  town  he  entered,"  [in 
Bengal,]  and  as  being  "  large  and  situated  on  the 
sea-shore."1  But  the  following  quotation  from  Pata- 
vino,  whose  work  was  published  in  1597,  seems  to 
upset  my  friend's  deduction  as  well  as  my  own  ;  for 
it  also  describes  Bengala  as  a  town  distinct  from  either 
Gour,  or  Chittagong,  or  Satgong.  He  writes:  — 
"  GOVRO  vrbs  Regia  habitatio  fuit,  et  BENGALA 
urbs  qua?  regioni  nomen  dat,  inter  vniversa?  India? 

1  Lee's  Translation,  p.  194. 


praeclarissimas  connumeratur.  Pi-aster  has  iuxta  maris 
ripam  ad  ostia  Chaberis  insignia  emporia  Catigan  et 
Satigan  iacent,  quae  centum  propemodum  leucis  ab 
invicem  distant."1  I  find,  moreover,  on  further  investi- 
gation, that  Rennell  likewise  recognizes  Satgong  and 
Banghella  as  distinct  towns,  and  gives  some  clue  to- 
wards determining  the  position  of  the  latter.  The 
former  he  describes  as  follows  : — "  Satgong  or  Sata- 
gong,  now  an  inconsiderable  village  on  a  small  creek 
of  the  Hoogly  river,  about  four  miles  to  the  north- 
west of  Hoogly,  was,  in  1566,  and  probably  later,  a 
large  commercial  city,  in  which  the  European  traders 
had  their  factories  in  Bengal.  At  that  time,  Satgong 
river  was  capable  of  bearing  small  vessels  ;  and  I 
suspect,  that  its  then  course,  after  passing  Satgong, 
was  by  way  of  Adaumpour,  Omptah,  and  Tamlook  ; 
and  that  the  river  called  the  Old  Ganges  was  a  part  of 
its  course,  and  received  that  name  while  the  circum- 
stance of  the  change  was  fresh  in  the  memory  of  the 
people.  The  appearance  of  the  country  between  Sat- 
gong and  Tamlook  countenances  such  an  opinion." 
Of  the  other  place,  which  seems  to  be  Varthema's 
Banghella,  he  says  :  "  In  some  ancient  maps,  and 
books  of  travel,  we  meet  with  a  city  named  Bangella  ; 
but  no  traces  of  such  a  place  now  exist.  It  is  de- 
scribed as  being  near  the  eastern  mouth  of  the 
Ganges,2  and  I  conceive  that  the  site  of  it  has  been 

1  Geoff.  Univ.  turn  Vet.  turn  Nova  absolutissimum  opus,  p.  258. 

2  It  is  so  placed  in  several  of  the  old  maps  belonging  to  the 
British  Museum.  For  some  further  notes  on  this  subject,  the 
reader  is  referred  to  the  Postscript  at  the  end  of  this  Introduction. 



carried  away  by  the  river,  as  in  my  remembrance  a 
vast  tract  of  land  has  disappeared  thereabouts.  Ben- 
galla  appears  to  have  been  in  existence  during  the 
early  part  of  the  last  century."1 

To  return  from  this  digression  :  Varthema  repre- 
sents Banghella  as  one  of  the  finest  cities  he  had 
hitherto  seen.  The  Sultan  was  a  Muhammedan,  and 
had  a  standing  army  of  20,000  men.  Here  they 
found  the  richest  merchants  they  had  ever  met ; 
the  principal  exports  were  cotton  and  silk  stuffs, 
which  were  woven  by  men  and  not  by  women ;  the 
country  abounded  in  grain  of  every  kind,  sugar, 
ginger,  and  cotton,  and  was,  withal,  the  best  place 
in  the  world  to  live  in.  In  this  latter  particular, 
our  author's  statement  is  corroborated  by  the  ex- 
perience of  Ibn  Batuta  nearly  two  centuries  before, 
who  says:  "  I  never  saw  a  country  in  which 
provisions  were  so  cheap.  I  there  saw  one  of  the 
religious  of  the  West,  who  told  me  that  he  had 
bought  provisions  for  himself  and  family  for  a  whole 
year  with  eight  dirhems,"2  or  about  twenty-four 
shillings  of  our  money  ! 

At  Banghella  our  adventurers  met  two  Christians 
from  the  city  of  Samau  in  Cathay,  a  place  which  I 
was  unable  to  identify  when  writing  the  notes,  but 
for  which  I  have  since  discovered,  what  appears  to 
me,  a  very  probable  representative  in  one  of  the 
letters  of  Fra  Odorico  (a.d.  1318),  who,  in  his  ac- 
count of  "  Catay,"  speaks  of  Christians  inhabiting  that 

1  Memoir  of  a  Map  of  Hindooslan,  p.  57. 
2  Lee's  Translation,  p.  194. 


province  in  considerable  numbers,  and  mentions  that 
of  the  4,009  doctors  who  attended  on  the.  "  Gran 
Cane,"  eight  were  Christians.  He  then  adds : — 
"  During  the  winter,  this  lord  resides  at  Cabalec, 
[Kanbalii=Pekin,]  but  at  the  beginning  of  summer 
he  leaves  it  to  take  up  his  abode  in  a  city  called 
Sanay,  situated  towards  the  north,  a  very  cold  lo- 
cality and  habitation,  and  in  removing  from  the  one 
place  to  the  other,  he  goes  in  wonderful  state.'1 
This  quotation  is  from  the  narrative  which  Fra 
Guglielmodi  Solona  professes  to  have  taken  down  from 
Fra  Odorico's  own  lips,  at  Padua,  in  the  year  1330. 
In  the  other  account,  which  is  also  preserved  by 
Ramusio,  and  which  appears  to  have  been  written 
by  the  missionary  Friar  himself,  this  summer-palace 
of  the  Great  Khan  is  called  Sandojj  ;  but  the  names 
of  the  same  places  are  so  differently  spelt  in  the  two 
exemplars  as  frequently  to  defy  identification  without 
the  aid  of  the  accompanying  narrative.  In  this  in- 
stance, there  can  be  no  doubt  that  Sanay  and  Sandoy 
represent  one  and  the  same  locality  ;  and  although  it 
is  beyond  me  to  decide  which  is  the  more  correct  or- 
thography, I  deem  it  tolerably  certain  that  the  place 
so  called  was  identical  with  Varthema's  "  city  of 

There  is  so  much  interesting  matter  in  these  early 
travels  of  Fra  Odorico,  that  it  is  to  be  hoped  some 
competent  hand  will  prepare  an  annotated  transla- 
tion of  them  for  the  Hakluyt  Society.  A  striking- 
feature   in   the   two  narratives,  which  evidently  de- 

1  Ramusio,  vol.  ii.  p.  251. 



scribe  the  same  journey,  is  that  one  of  them,  viz.,  that 
written  by  Fra  Guglielmo,  contains  an  account  of 
several  places  on  the  western  coast  of  India  between 
Thana  (Tanna)  and  Cape  Comorin,  including  Alan- 
drina  (Fandaraina=Pandarani  1)  and  Mebor  (Mala- 
bar,) and  also  of  S'umoltra  (Sumatra?)  and  Iana  (pro- 
bably for  Iatia=Ja\3,1)  as  far  &sllicunera,a,  large  island 
in  the  ocean  towards  the  south  about  2,000  miles  in 
circuit,  from  whence  the  traveller  proceeds  to  Silam, 
(Ceylon,)  then  to  Dadin,  an  island  one  day  distant,  and 
next,  after  a  navigation  of  many  days,  to  Manzi  on  the 
frontiers  of  China ;  whereas,  in  the  other  exemplar, 
most  of  these  intermediate  places  are  omitted,  and 
the  writer  goes  direct  from  Tana  (Tanna)  to  Nicoverra, 
and  then  to  Mangi  by  Diddi.  Whencethis discrepancy  1 
Was  the  additional  matter  an  interpolation  of  a 
later  date?  The  subject  deserves  a  thorough  investi- 

The  two  Sarnau  Christians  whom  our  travellers 
encountered  at  Banghella  had  evidently  come  to  that 
part  of  India  for  trading  purposes,  and  as  Varthema 
describes  them  as  writing  from  right  to  left,  they 
were  probably  Nestorians.  On  seeing  the  branches 
of  coral  which  Cogiazenor  had  for  sale,  they  advised 
him  to  accompany  them  to  Pegu,  as  being  the  most 
eligible  market  for  such  articles  ;  and  the  party  ac- 
cordingly set  off  together  on  a  voyage  of  "  about  one 
thousand  miles,"1  during  which  they  "  passed  a  gulf 

1  It  is  somewhat  strange  that  Varthema  should  make  the  dis- 
tance between  his  Banghella  and  Pegu  three  hundred  miles  more 
than  he  interposes  between  Tenasserim  and  Banghella.  See  pp. 
213,  214. 


towards  the  south,"  (Martaban,)  and  in  due  time 
reached  their  destination. 

Varthema  correctly  describes  the  Pegu  of  his  day 
as  a  great  city,  situated  to  the  west  of  a  beautiful 
river,  containing  "  good  houses  and  palaces  built  of 
stone,  with  lime,"  and  as  beiug  enclosed  within  a 
wall.  The  old  town  has  long  since  disappeared,  but 
Symes  tells  us  that  its  extent  may  still  be  traced  by 
the  remains  of  the  ditch  which  surrounded  it,  and 
that  the  bricks  from  its  ruins  now  pave  the  streets  of 
the  new  town.  Among  the  vegetable  productions  of 
the  kingdom,  its  splendid  timber-trees  and  enormous 
bamboos,  and,  among  the  animals,  the  abundance  of 
civet-cats,  are  particularly  noticed.  The  chief  mer- 
chandize of  the  place  was  in  jewels,  and  the  mines  of 
Capellan,  which  Tavernier  a  century  and  a  half  later 
locates  in  a  mountain  twelve  days'  journey  from 
Sirian,  are  mentioned  as  the  great  source  of  rubies. 

In  his  account  of  the  Peguese  army,  our  author 
makes  the  singular  statement  that  it  contained  one 
thousand  Christians  like  those  found  in  Sarnau,  mean- 
ing thereby  Nestorians.  As  there  is  not  the  slightest 
evidence  to  prove  that  so  large  a  number  of  native 
Christians  ever  existed  in  Pegu,  I  have  been  led  to 
suppose  that  Varthema  had  heard  that  many  of  the 
soldiers,  like  the  Buddhists  in  general,  believed  in  a 
trinity,  or,  as  Yule  explains  it  in  commenting  on  a 
similar  remark  made  by  Nicolo  de'  Conti,  "  the  Triad 
of  Buddha,  Dharma,  and  Sanga"  and  incontinently 
christianized  them.  The  same  writer,  in  another 
place,  quotes  the  old  Geographer  in  Ramusio  as  iden- 


tifying  the  Hindu  Triad  with  the  Christian  doctrine 
in  personal  detail : — "  All  the  country  of  Malabar 
believes  in  the  Trinity,  Father,  Son,  and  Holy 
Spirit,  and  this,  beginning  at  Cambay,  and  ending 
at  Bengal."1 

Finding  that  the  King  was  absent  on  an  expedition 
against  the  King  of  Ava,  our  party  hired  "  a  ship, 
made  all  of  one  piece,"  and  set  forth  in  search  of 
him,  their  course  being,  as  may  be  presumed,  down 
the  river  of  Pegu  and  then  up  the  Irawaddy.  Not 
being  able  to  reach  Ava  on  account  of  the  war,  they 
retraced  their  steps,  and  on  the  return  of  the  King 
five  days  after  were  admitted  to  an  audience  of  His 
Majesty,  who  was  so  bedizened  with  jewels  that,  if 
seen  by  night,  "  he  appears  to  be  a  sun."  The 
Christians,  who  acted  as  interpreters  on  the  occasion, 
apprised  him  of  the  merchandize  which  Cogiazenor 
had  brought  for  sale  ;  but  that  business  was  deferred 
to  the  day  after  the  next,  "  because  the  next  day  the 
King  had  to  sacrifice  to  the  devil  for  the  victory 
which  he  had  gained"  over  his  A  van  enemies.  The 
account  which  Varthema  gives  of  the  subsequent 
interview  reveals  the  craft  of  the  Persian  in  placing 
his  corals  at  the  King's  disposal  for  the  mere  honour 
of  having  them  accepted  by  royalty.  The  artifice 
was  eminently  successful  ;  for  although  the  King 
was  unable  to  pay  in  ready  cash,  owing  to  the  heavy 
expenditure  occasioned  by  two  years'  war,  he  gave 
the  wily  merchant  a  handful  of  rubies  for  his  corals, 
and  presented  the  Christians  with  two  rubies  each. 

1  Friar  Jordanus,  p.  24,  note. 


"  Wherefore,"  remarks  our  author,  "  he  may  be  con- 
sidered the  most  liberal  King  in  the  world  ; "  adding 
for  our  information  that  his  principal  revenue  was 
derived  from  the  lac  and  sandal-wood,  brazil-wood 
and  cotton,  which  the  country  produced  in  great 
abundance.  Five  days  after,  news  arrived  that  the 
King  of  Ava  was  marching  to  attack  the  King  of 
Pegu,  and  as  the  latter  left  the  city  with  a  large 
army  to  encounter  him,  our  party  embarked  on  board 
a  ship  and  in  eight  days  reached  Malacca. 

Near  this  place  was  a  river  twenty-five  miles  wide, 
called  "  Gaza."  This  was  undoubtedly  the  Straits  of 
Malacca,  which  are  about  that  width  between  the 
mainland  and  the  opposite  island  of  Rupat,  and  the 
name  is  most  probably  a  contraction  of  Bogluu,  the 
common  Arabic  designation  of  a  strait.  As  Var- 
tliema  describes  their  course  from  Pegu  as  being 
"  towards  the  west,"  he  had  evidently  a  very  incor- 
rect idea  of  the  geography  of  the  peninsula.  The 
country  about  Malacca  was  not  very  fertile,  but  it 
abounded  in  fruits  and  different  kinds  of  birds  and 
animals,  and  the  commerce  carried  on  at  the  port 
was  very  extensive,  for  "  more  ships  arrived  there 
than  at  any  other  place  in  the  world."  The  natives 
generally  were  a  bad  race,  and  foreign  merchants 
slept  on  board  their  ships  to  avoid  assassination. 
Distinct  from  the  more  civilized  community  of  the 
place,  who  dressed  after  the  manner  of  Cairo,  there 
was  another  class  who  set  the  local  authorities  at  de- 
fiance, and  who  did  not  care  to  reside  on  land  be- 
cause they  were  "  men  of  the  sea."       I  have  pointed 

lxxxviii  INTRODUCTION. 

out  in  my  annotations  on  the  text  how  strikingly 
this  part  of  Varthema's  narrative  is  corroborated 
by  the  learned  researches  of  Mr.  Crawfurd.  "  Men 
of  the  Sea"  is  the  literal  translation  of  the  Malay 
Orang-laut,  or  sea-gipsies,  who  are  to  be  found  so- 
journing from  Sumatra  to  the  Moluccas.  The  only 
habitations  of  this  people  are  their  boats,  and  they 
live  exclusively  by  the  produce  of  the  sea,  or  by  the 
robberies  which  they  commit  on  it. 

The  next  place  to  which  our  party  proceeded  was 
Pider  in  the  island  of  Sumatra,  which  Varthema 
locates  about  eighty  leagues  from  the  mainland, — a 
correct  estimate  if  measured  from  the  coast  directly 
opposite,  but  nearly  twice  that  distance  from  Malacca. 
After  portraying  the  physical  features  of  the  people, 
and  remarking  that  their  religion  and  customs,  that 
of  Saft  included,  were  like  those  of  Tenasserim,  Var- 
thema describes  the  currency  as  consisting  of  gold, 
silver,  and  tin  coins,  "  all  stamped,  having  a  devil 
[idol]  on  one  side,  and  something  resembling  a  cha- 
riot drawn  by  elephants  on  the  other."  This  state- 
ment is  somewhat  in  opposition  to  Mr.  Crawfurd,  who 
says  that  the  natives  of  the  Archipelago  generally  had 
no  coined  money  prior  to  the  arrival  of  the  Eu- 
ropeans ;  but  this  conclusion  is  modified  by  the  ex- 
ception of  Java,  and  more  especially  of  A  chin,  where 
he  states  that  a  gold  coin  existed  inscribed  with 
Arabic  characters,  bearing  the  names  of  the  sove- 
reigns under  whom  it  wras  struck,  from  which  it  may 
be  inferred  that  the  date  of  coinage  was  subsequent 
to  the  establishment  of  Islamism  in  that  province. 


Still,  as  Ibn  Batiita  found  a  Muhammedan  sovereign 
reigning  at  Sumatra  in  the  fourteenth  century,  and 
as  Achin  was  most  likely  the  place  which  he  touched 
at  in  that  island,  there  is  nothing  incredible  in  Var- 
thema's  account  of  the  different  coins  current  at 
Pedir  in  his  time  ;  for  Pedir  is  the  next  adjoining 
province  to  Achin,  and  was  probably  at  some  period 
tributary  to  that  state.  It  is  possible,  however,  that 
some  of  these  coins  were  imported  in  the  course  of 
trade  with  the  continent  of  India,  for  Varthema  de- 
scribes one  street  of  Pedir  as  occupied  by  five  hun- 
dred money-changers,  and  associates  the  remark  with 
the  great  number  of  foreign  merchants  who  carried 
on  an  extensive  traffic  at  the  place.  As  a  colony  of 
Hindus  still  exists  at  Malacca,  whose  profession  it  is  to 
try  gold  by  the  touch  and  to  refine  it,  it  is  not  unlikely 
that  the  money-changers  at  Pedir  were  also  natives  of 
India  ;  and,  if  so,  the  importation  of  Indian  money  is 
readily  accounted  for.  Perhaps  some  one  learned  in 
oriental  numismata  may  succeed,  where  I  have  failed, 
in  identifying  the  devices  on  Varthema's  stamped 
money  of  Pedir  with  some  of  the  old  Hindu  coins. 

In  his  enumeration  of  the  natural  productions  of 
Sumatra,  our  author  includes  most  of  those  peculiar 
to  the  island,  such  as  pepper,  specifying  the  long 
pepper,  of  which  he  gives  a  detailed  description  ; 
benzoin  ;  different  qualities  of  sandal-wood,  the  eagle- 
wood  of  commerce  ;  and  silk,  both  domestic  and 
wild.  With  regard  to  the  latter  article,  Crawfurd 
says,  in  commenting  on  a  similar  statement  made  by 
De  Barros,  that  it  is  probably  an  error,  as  he  is  not 


aware  of  any  kind  of  silk  being  produced  in  the 
islands  of  the  Archipelago  ;  and  as  I  can  suggest  no- 
thing to  modify  this  wide  discrepancy,  I  must  just 
leave  it  as  it  is,  and  rejoin  our  travellers  in  their  on- 
ward journey.1 

A  desire  on  the  part  of  Cogiazenor  to  see  the  place 
where  the  nutmegs  and  cloves  were  produced,  in- 
duced him  and  Varthema  to  put  themselves  under 
the  guidance  of  their  two  Christian  companions,  who 
were  now  anxious  to  return  to  their  own  country, 
but  who  eventually  consented  to  accompany  them, 
on  hearing  that  Varthema  had  been  a  Christian,  and 
had  seen  Jerusalem,  where  he  had  been  purchased  as 
a  slave,  and  brought  up  as  a  Mussulman.  This 
fabricated  story  so  delighted  the  simple  Sarnau  couple, 
that  they  endeavoured  to  persuade  Varthema  to  go 
with  them  to  China,  promising  that  he  should  be 
made  very  rich  there,  and  be  allowed  the  free  ex- 
ercise of  his  adopted  faith.  Cogiazenor  objected  to 
the  latter  arrangement,  informing  them  that  his 
companion  was  the  destined  husband  of  his  bright- 
eyed  niece  "  Samis,"  which  finally  settled  the  matter. 
Smaller  boats  being  required  for  the  projected  trip, 

1  Varthema  also  mentions  that  many  of  the  houses  in  Sumatra 
were  covered  with  shells  of  sea  turtles, — a  remark  which  I  have 
been  able  to  illustrate  by  the  researches  of  Mr.  II.  H.  Major  (see 
note  1,  on  p.  240).  But  the  colossal  tortoise  of  Diodorus  Siculus, 
and  even  the  Colossochelys  Atlas  of  the  British  Museum,  is  out- 
done by  one  described  by  Fra  Odorico  in  a  country  which  he  calls 
"  Zapa,"  somewhere  in  the  Indian  Archipelago.  He  says  : 
"  And  in  this  place  I  also  saw  a  turtle  of  wonderful  size  like  the 
cuba  or  trullo  [the  square  tower]  of  [the  church  of]  Saint  An- 
thony at  Padua"!   Ramusio,  vol.  ii.  p.  248. 


wherein  there  were  no  dangers  to  be  apprehended 
from  pirates,  though  the  Christians  could  not  promise 
them  immunity  from  the  chances  of  the  sea,  two 
sampans,  ready  manned,  were  bought  by  the  Persian 
for  400  pardai,  (about  £280,)  and  after  taking  on 
board  a  stock  of  provisions,  including  the  best  fruits 
which  Varthema  had  ever  tasted,  the  party  sailed  from 
the  island  of  Sumatra. 

We  are  now  to  follow  our  adventurers  on  a  route 
never  before  traversed  by  Europeans,  or,  more  safely, 
of  which  no  European  before  him  has  left  any  record.1 
"  About  twenty  islands "  were  passed  during  the 
voyage,  leading  us  to  infer  that  they  steered  along 
the  coast  of  Java,  and  in  fifteen  days  they  arrived  at 
"  Bandan,"  one  of  the  Banda  or  Nutmeg  group. 
The  inhabitants  are  represented  as  being  "  like 
beasts :  "  they  had  no  ruler,  neither  was  any  law 
necessary,  "  because  the  people  were  so  stupid,  that 
if  they  wished  to  do  evil  they  would  not  know  how 
to  accomplish  it.1'  Nevertheless,  they  must  have 
been  within  the  area  of  the  trade  at  that  period, 
and  in  frequent  contact  with  a  superior  civilization, 

1  As  far  as  I  can  recollect,  Marco  Polo  and  Fra  Odorico  are  the 
only  Europeans,  prior  to  our  author,  who  have  given  us  a  personal 
account  of  any  of  the  countries  to  the  east  of  the  Malayan  peninsula, 
yet  neither  of  them  travelled  to  the  eastward  of  Borneo.  Never- 
theless, it  is  by  no  means  improbable  that  stray  foreigners  from 
the  West  may  have  been  there  long  before  Varthema.  Until  very 
lately,  I  believed  with  the  rest  of  the  world  that  Burton  was  the 
first  European  who  visited  Hurrur ;  but  Padre  Sapeto  affirms  that 
he  himself  was  there  some  years  before  Burton,  and  that  several 
other  Europeans  had  resided  at  the  place  half  a  century  antecedent 
to  his  time. 


for  "  money  circulated  there  as  at  Calicut."  The 
only  production  of  the  island  was  the  nutmeg,  which 
grew  spontaneously,  and  was  common  property,  each 
person  gathering  as  much  as  he  chose.  The  tree, 
nut,  and  mace,  are  described  with  Varthema's  usual 
accuracy,  and  he  states  that  the  market  price  of 
twenty-six  pounds  of  nutmegs  was  half  a  carlino,  or 
about  three  pence  of  our  currency. 

Leaving  Banclan,  the  next  place  gained  was 
"  Monoch,"1  a  distorted  form  of  3Ialuka,  the  proper 
collective  name  of  the  Moluccas,  which  they  reached 
in  twelve  days.  Mr.  Crawfurd  remarks  that  Var- 
thema  "  seems  to  consider  the  Moluccas  as  one  island, 
including  probably  under  this  name  the  great  island 
of  Gilolo."2  This  is  hardly  so ;  for  our  author 
mentions  expressly  "other  neighbouring  islands  where 
cloves  grow,"  but  says  "  they  are  small  and  unin- 
habited." It  is  impossible  to  decide  with  certainty 
which  of  the  islands  the  party  landed  at,  but  as  it  is 
described  as  being  "  much  smaller  than  Bandan,"  I 
have  conjectured  that  it  was  either  Ternate  or  Tidor. 
The  inhabitants  are  represented  as  being  worse  than 
those  of  Bandan,  but  lived  much  in  the  same  style. 
The  only  object  of  interest  here  was  the  cloves, — an 
object  which,  as  Mr.  Crawfurd  correctly  says,  "  mainly 
prompted  the  European  nations  of  the  fifteenth  cen- 
tury to  the  discovery  of  the  New  World."  Varthema 
gives  a  very  fair  account  of  the  clove  tree,  the  soil  in 

1  I  perceive  that,    by   an  oversight,  I  have  written   "  JITc/luck" 
for  Monoch  in  the  23rd  line  of  the  note  on  p.  247. 

2  Descriptive  Dictionary  of  the  Indian  Islands,  etc.,  p.  64. 


which  it  flourished,  and  the  simple  manner  of  gather- 
ing the  spice.  The  price  of  the  cloves  was  double 
that  of  the  nutmeg,  but  they  were  sold  by  measure 
"  as  the  people  did  not  understand  weights."  He 
says  the  country  was  very  low,  which  is  only  true  of 
the  latitude  of  the  Moluccas;  and  that  was  evidently 
our  author's  meaning,  for  he  immediately  subjoins  : 
"  and  the  north  star  is  not  seen  from  it." 

After  a  short  stay  at  "  Monoch,"  the  Christians 
proposed  to  conduct  our  travellers  to  "  the  largest 
island  in  the  world;"  for  so  they  designated  Java, 
proving  how  ignorant  they  were  of  its  relative  size. 
But  they  must  first  go  to  "  Bornei,"  or  Borneo,  and 
procure  a  large  ship  there,  "  because  the  sea  is  more 
rough."  As  this  precaution  would  have  been  un- 
called for  had  the  party  taken  the  same  route  as  that 
by  which  they  had  come,  I  was  at  first  inclined  to 
suppose  that  they  might  have  sailed  through  the 
Macassar  Strait ;  but  that  would  not  agree  with  the 
course  pursued,  which  Varthema  says  was  "  constantly 
to  the  southward."  Hence,  I  have  been  led  to  infer 
that  the  Java  Sea  was  the  rougher  passage  indicated; 
though  one  fails  to  see  the  necessity  for  their  having 
taken  the  route  by  Borneo,  when  they  might  have 
reached  Java  without  touching  there  at  all,  unless, 
indeed,  the  Christians  had  some  particular  object  in 
visiting  that  island.  Unluckily,  the  space  of  two 
hundred  miles,  which  Varthema  interposes  between 
the  Moluccas  and  Borneo,  affords  no  clue  to  de- 
termine the  route,  as  the  nearest  extremities  of  those 
two  places  are  more  than  twice  that  distance  apart, 


which  leads  to  the  conjecture  that  by  some  mischance 
the  word  miles  has  been  substituted  for  leagues. 
However  this  may  be,  the  place  where  they  disem- 
barked was  certainly  in  the  highway  of  trade,  for 
"  a  very  great  quantity  of  camphor "  was  shipped 
from  it  every  year.  Varthema  heard  that  this  sub- 
stance was  the  gum  of  a  tree,  but  not  having  seen 
the  tree  himself,  he  abstains  from  asserting  the  truth 
of  the  report. 

Chartering  a  vessel  at  "  Bornei,"  the  party  pursued 
their  course  towards  the  south.  The  captain, — who 
was  probably  a  Malay,  for  Varthema  and  the  Persian 
communicated  with  him  through  the  Christians, 
whereas,  had  he  been  an  Arab,  they  would  not  have 
required  an  interpreter, — "  carried  the  compass  and 
magnet  after  our  manner,  and  had  a  chart  which  was 
all  marked  with  lines  perpendicular  and  across." 
Mr.  Markham  assumes  that  the  compass  was  of  Euro- 
pean manufacture,  its  index  pointing  to  the  north, 
and  not  like  that  of  the  Chinese  pointing  to  the 
south.  It  may  be  so  ;  nevertheless,  I  have  not  yet 
met  with  any  conclusive  proof  that  the  Easterns 
borrowed  the  use  of  the  compass,  as  they  now  have 
it,  from  the  West.  However,  as  the  polar  star  was 
invisible,  Cogiazenor  inquired  of  the  master  how  he 
navigated.  To  which  he  replied,  that  he  steered  by  his 
compass,  which  was  adjusted  to  the  north  ;  but, 
pointing  out  "four  or  five  stars,  among  which  he  said 
there  was  one  which  was  opposite  to  our  north  star," 
he  stated  that  on  the  other  side  of  the  said  island, 
towards  the  south,  [Java?]  there  were  "some  other 


races  who  navigate  by  the  said  four  or  five  stars 
opposite  to  ours."  There  can  be  no  doubt  that  the 
constellation  of  the  Southern  Cross  is  here  indicated; 
but  the  additional  information  respecting  other  races 
to  the  south,  "  where  the  day  lasted  only  four  hours," 
which  would  be  about  15°  to  the  southward  of  Van 
Diemen's  Land,  is  most  interesting.  It  is  highly  im- 
probable that  the  Malay  could  have  guessed  at  phe- 
nomena so  true,  and  yet  so  different  to  anything 
which  he  himself  had  experienced;  still,  from  whence 
did  he  derive  his  knowledge,  superficial  as  it  was  \ 
In  a  note  which  Mr.  R.  H.  Major  kindly  drew  up  for 
me  on  this  chapter,  he  remarks: — "This  reference  to 
Australia  is  the  more  remarkable,  as  it  precedes,  in 
time,  those  early  indications  of  the  discovery  of  that 
country  which  I  have  shown  to  exist  in  manuscript 
maps  of  the  first  half  of  the  sixteenth  century, 
although  the  discoverers'  names,  most  probably  Por- 
tugese, and  the  date  of  the  discovery,  as  yet  remain  a 
mystery."  The  mystery  of  the  old  Malay's  knowledge 
will  never  be  revealed  :  Varthema  might  have  aided 
us  in  the  matter  by  pursuing  his  inquiries,  but  he 
winds  up  his  record  of  the  skipper's  communications 
with  the  exquisite  peroration :  "  On  hearing  this,  we 
were  much  pleased  and  satisfied"  ! 

The  tedium  of  the  voyage  between  Borneo  and  Java 
was  relieved  by  the  anxious  inquiries  of  the  Christians 
respecting  their  brethren  in  the  far  West.  On  this 
subject  Varthema  had  much  to  communicate  which 
would  be  deeply  interesting  to  them  ;  and  when  he 
told  them  "  of  the  Volto  Santo  at  St.  Peter's,  and  of 


the  heads  of  St.  Peter  and  St.  Paul,  and  of  many 
other  saints,"  his  ingenuous  listeners  would  fain  have 
taken  him  back  with  them  to  their  country.  It  is 
by  no  means  improbable,  that  this  friendly  converse 
had  some  influence  in  determining  our  traveller  to 
bring  his  wanderings  to  a  close  at  the  first  favourable 
opportunity.  He  had  slaked  his  thirst  for  adventure 
by  seeing  parts  of  the  globe  which  no  other  European 
of  his  day  had  yet  visited,  and  the  associations  of 
kindred  and  home,  and  of  the  things  which  he  once 
regarded  as  sacred,  revived  as  they  were  by  these  dis- 
cussions, made  him  long  to  throw  off  the  trammels  of 
a  profession  which  was  now  becoming  a  burden 
to  him. 

Five  days'  sail  from  Borneo  brought  the  vessel  to 
Java,  but  at  what  place  on  the  island  the  party 
landed  is  uncertain  ;  doubtless,  it  was  somewhere  on 
the  northern  coast.  The  king  and  all  the  people 
were  "  Pagans,"  and  although  one  class  of  the  com- 
munity consisted  of  "  the  most  trustworthy  men  in 
the  world,"  there  was  another  class  still  so  barbarous 
as  to  be  addicted  to  the  practice  of  eating  human 
flesh.  Mr.  Crawfurd  ridicules  the  latter  idea,  which 
would  perhaps  have  been  preposterous  had  our  tra- 
vellers touched  at  one  of  the  more  civilized  maritime 
towns ;  but  that,  as  it  appears  to  me,  was  not  the 
case :  first,  from  this  recorded  statement  respecting 
the  subsistence  of  cannibalism,  which,  as  I  have 
shown  in  my  notes,  prevailed  in  other  parts  of  the 
Archipelago  at  this  period.  Secondly,  because  the 
inhabitants   were   all  Pagans,   whereas  most  of  the 


frequented  ports  contained  many  Muhammedans  who 
had  introduced  a  superior  civilization  together  with 
their  religion.  Thirdly,  because  in  such  localities 
fire-arms  were  well  known,  while  the  natives  where 
our  party  disembarked  were  quite  ignorant  of  ar- 
tillery, their  only  weapons  being  bows  and  darts  of 
cane,  and  the  peculiar  Smnpitan,  or  blow-pipe.  And, 
lastly,  these  separate  considerations  receive  general 
confirmation  from  the  absence  of  all  mention  in  Var- 
thema's  narrative  that  the  place  which  they  visited 
was  one  of  trade, — a  circumstance  which  he  never 
omits  to  record  whenever  such  was  the  case. 

Before  quitting  Java,  Cazazionor  purchased  a 
couple  of  young  children  who  had  undergone  the 
cruel  operation  regarded  as  desirable  for  fitting  them 
to  become  attendants  on  a  Mussulman  harim.  The 
barbarous  practice,  which  also  prevailed  in  different 
parts  of  India  at  this  period,  was  most  probably  in- 
troduced into  these  countries  with  Islam,  and  many 
"Moorish  merchants"  are  said  to  have  made  a  trade 
of  buying  and  preparing  these  wretched  victims  for 
exportation  to  foreign  markets. 

Crossing  over  to  Malacca,  steering  at  first  to  the 
eastward  to  avoid  the  surrounding  islands,  our  tra- 
vellers there  took  leave  of  the  Sarnau  Christians,  with 
sincere  regret  on  both  sides,  and  from  thence  proceeded 
to  "  Cioromandel"  (Negapatam),  where  they  engaged 
a  sampan  to  take  them  to  Quilon.  At  that  place 
Varthema  found  twenty  Portuguese,  and  would  gladly 
have  made  his  escape  to  them,  "  but  they  were  very 
few,"  and  the  eyes  of  some  Mussulmans  who  knew 



him  to  be  Hajji  were  upon  him.  At  Quilon  they  em- 
barked on  the  "river"  (see  p.  lxviii.  ante,)  and  in  ten 
days  reached  Calicut. 

At  Calicut,  our  author  met  two  Milanese,  who  had 
deserted  from  the  Portuguese  at  Cochin,  and  were 
there  employed  in  casting  artillery  for  the  Zamorin. 
Varthema  concerted  with  these  renegades  how  to 
effect  their  escape,  but  the  attempt  was  surrounded 
with  difficulties  on  all  sides,  and  he  was  obliged  to 
trust  to  his  own  resources.  Long  practice  had  made 
him  fertile  in  expedients,  and  an  adept  at  dissimula- 
tion, and  on  this  occasion  he  set  himself  up  as  a 
Muhammedan  santon,  affecting  abstinence  from  ani- 
mal food,  (though  he  clandestinely  helped  the  Milanese 
to  consume  two  brace  of  fowls  every  day,)  and  a  se- 
verity of  demeanour  consistent  with  his  assumed  cha- 
racter. As  such,  he  was  consulted  in  the  case  of  a 
sick  friend  of  Cazazionor,  and  requested  to  prescribe 
for  him.  The  narrative  of  his  mode  of  treating  the 
patient,  as  recorded  in  the  chapter  entitled  "  How  I 
made  myself  a  physician  in  the  town  of  Calicut,"  is 
as  extravagant  as  it  is  ludicrous.  Fortunately,  the 
sick  man  survived  the  severe  treatment  to  which  he 
was  subjected,  and  the  success  of  his  amateur  medi- 
cal practice  greatly  enhanced  our  author's  repute, 
insomuch  that  he  was  solicited  to  act  the  part  of 
Imdm,  and  lead  the  prayers  of  the  congregation  in 
the  mosque.  Conceiving  that  his  saintliness  was 
now  generally  established,  he  next  simulated  sick- 
ness, and  suggested  that  a  change  of  air  might  be 
beneficial.      Cazazionor,   who  appears  to  have  been 


wholly  blinded  by  his  companion's  deceit,  readily 
gave  his  consent,  and  furnished  him  with  letters  of 
recommendation  to  a  friend  at  Cannanore.  Var- 
thema  narrowly  escaped  detention  by  the  Zamorin's 
IS1  airs  at  the  place  of  embarkation,  but  his  good 
star  was  in  the  ascendant,  and  after  travelling  some 
distance  along  the  coast,  he  eventually  picked  up  a 
boat  which  carried  him  to  his  destination.  Under 
the  hospitable  roof  of  Cazazionor's  acquaintance,  he 
breathed  more  freely,  and  after  reconnoitering  the 
spot  where  the  Portuguese  fort  was  in  course  of  erec- 
tion, he  availed  himself  of  the  next  favourable  oppor- 
tunity to  place  himself  under  the  protection  of  the 
garrison.  Lorenzo  de  Almeyda,  the  Viceroy's  son, 
who  was  there  at  the  time,  gave  a  hearty  welcome  to 
one  who  was  so  well  able  to  describe  the  warlike 
preparations  which  were  being  made  at  Calicut  to 
oppose  the  Portuguese,  and  after  discussing  such  mat- 
ters with  him  for  several  days,  sent  him  on  board  a 
galley  to  his  father  at  Cochin,  who  also  gave  him 
an  honourable  reception,  and  remanded  him  to 
Cannanore  to  use  his  best  endeavours  in  behalf 
of  the  two  Milanese  at  Calicut.  His  efforts,  how- 
ever, to  effect  their  liberation  were  unsuccessful.  The 
unfortunate  men  were  betrayed  by  the  spy  he  em- 
ployed to  communicate  with  them,  and  were  barba- 
rously murdered  by  a  crowd  of  infuriated  Joghis  in 
their  own  house  at  Calicut. 

The  sequel  of  our  author's  Indian  career  may  be 
told  in  a  few  words.  He  appears  to  have  been  pre- 
sent at  a  great  naval  engagement  between  the  Por- 



tuguese  and  the  Zamorin's  fleet  off  Cannanore,  and  was 
subsequently  employed  for  a  year  and  a  half  as  factor 
at  Cochin.  He  also  describes  the  siege  of  the  Por- 
tuguese fort  at  Cannanore  by  the  justly-incensed 
population,  which  occurred  during  his  tenure  of  office, 
and  the  opportune  relief  of  the  beleaguered  garrison 
by  the  fleet  under  Tristan  de  Cunna.  He  also  took  part 
in  the  attack  on  Ponani,  and  in  the  destruction  of  the 
Zamorin's  ships  which  were  anchored  there,  and  after 
the  battle  was,  with  several  others,  dubbed  a  knight 
by  the  Viceroy  Don  Francisco  de  Almeyda,  the  gal- 
lant Captain  Tristan  de  Cunna  acting  as  his  sponsor 
on  the  occasion.  His  account  of  these  different  ope- 
rations is  replete  with  interesting  details,  and  its 
general  authenticity  is  fully  corroborated  by  nume- 
rous undesigned  coincidences  between  his  narrative 
and  the  records  of  later  Portuguese  historians.  Un- 
fortunately, one  is  unable  to  deduce  any  reflection, 
from  Varthema's  independent  testimony,  palliative  of 
the  unwarrantable  proceedings  of  the  Portuguese 
towards  the  native  states  on  the  western  coast  of 
India  at  this  period.  Those  proceedings,  the  offspring 
of  national  ambition  and  selfishness,  were  carried 
out  in  a  spirit  of  barbarity  mingled  with  fanaticism 
which  outraged  the  first  principles  of  justice,  and  dis- 
graced the  religion  which  it  was  one  design  of  such 
conduct  to  promote.  Would  that  the  history  of  our 
own  first  transactions  in  India  were  unstained  by  any 
such  blemishes  !  Let  us  hope  that  some,  at  least,  of 
those  early  faults  have  been  atoned  for,  and  that  the 
remainder  will  be  forgotten  in  the  future  prosperity 


of  an  empire  which  has  been  justly  called  the  brightest 
jewel  in  the  diadem  of  Britain's  glorious  Queen. 

On  the  6th  of  December  1507,  our  traveller  finally 
left  Cannanore  with  the  homeward-bound  ships,  on 
board  the  San  Viccnzo,  a  vessel  belonging  to  one  Bar- 
tolomeo  Marchioni,  a  Florentine  resident  at  Lisbon. 
While  on  the  voyage,  he  takes  a  brief  retrospect  of 
the  recent  conquests  of  the  Portuguese  in  the  East, 
and  predicts  a  glorious  future  for  that  monarchy 
owing  to  the  simultaneous  efforts  which  were  made, 
under  its  immediate  auspices,  to  promote  Christianity 
among  the  natives  of  India.  t:  Ten,  and  even  twelve, 
Pagans  and  Moors  were  baptized  every  fete  day"  at 
Cochin  alone,  and  the  work  of  conversion,  which  was 
being  zealously  prosecuted,  was  everywhere  crowned 
with  signal  success.  The  prognostication,  as  regards 
territorial  aggrandizement,  was  speedily  realized  ; 
for,  fifteen  years  later,  the  Portuguese  had  made 
themselves  masters  of  the  principal  ports  on  the  Ma- 
labar and  Coromanclel  coasts,  of  parts  of  Ceylon  and 
the  Malayan  peninsula,  and  also  of  the  Moluccas. 
Their  possession  of  Malacca  in  the  east,  and  their 
settlements  at  Diu  and  Goa  on  the  west,  enabled 
them  to  engross  the  entire  trade,  including  that  of 
the  Persian  Gulf  on  the  one  side,  where  they  held  the 
important  island  of  Hormuz,  and  that  of  China,  Japan, 
and  the  Indian  Archipelago  on  the  other.  Their 
ships  frequented  every  port,  and  their  merchandize 
was  to  be  found  from  the  Cape  of  Good  Hope  to  the 
river  of  Canton ;  while  along  this  immense  line  of 
coast  they  had  established  a  chain  of  forts  and  fac- 


tories,  where  their  traffic  was  carried  on  and  pro- 
tected, unrivalled  and  uncontrolled.  The  commercial 
empire  of  the  Portuguese  in  the  East*  whether  con- 
sidered in  the  dimensions  which  it  attained,  the  brief 
space  in  which  it  was  consolidated,  its  opulence,  the 
splendour  with  which  its  government  was  conducted, 
or  the  very  slender  powers  with  which  it  was  formed, 
is  unique  in  the  history  of  nations. 

But  the  dominion  thus  acquired  was  as  short-lived 
as  the  sincere  piety,  the  generous  courage,  and  the 
indefatigable  energy  which  had  created  it.  No  longer 
animated  by  the  spirit  of  the  original  conquerors, 
their  successors,  heedless  of  the  common  cause,  be- 
came indolent,  debauched,  and  effeminate,  and  strove 
solely  for  their  own  individual  profit.  Officers  and 
soldiers  were  without  subordination,  discipline,  or 
patriotism,  and  the  governors,  corrupt  themselves, 
found  it  their  interest  to  foment  divisions  among  their 
countrymen.  These  intestine  cabals  alone,  combined 
with  the  oppression  which  was  exercised  towards  the 
natives,  would  have  sufficed  in  time  to  disintegrate 
the  newly-formed  empire ;  but  its  downfall  was  pre- 
cipitated by  the  appearance  of  a  formidable  enemy 
from  without.  The  revolted  Dutch,  interdicted  by  a 
decree  of  Philip  II.,  of  Spain  and  Portugal,  from  all 
commercial  relations  with  those  kingdoms,  seized 
every  opportunity  of  harassing  and  humiliating  their 
former  masters,  and,  taking  advantage  of  the  anarchy 
which  pervaded  the  Portuguese  colonies  in  the  East, 
boldly  prosecuted  their  trade  in  that  quarter,  and 
determined  at  length  to  expel  their  rivals.     In  the 


course  of  a  few  years  they  deprived  them  of  the 
Moluccas,  the  Spice  Islands,  Amboyna,  Tidor,  Ceylon, 
and  Malacca.  The  English,  also,  who  had  now  begun 
to  claim  a  share  of  the  spoils,  wrested  from  them 
Surat  and  other  parts  of  Guzerat,  and  in  conjunction 
with  the  Shah  of  Persia  drove  them  from  the  island  of 
HormuZjWhile  the  Imam  of  Maskat  expelled  them  from 
'Amman,  and  from  many  of  their  settlements  in  East 
Africa.  And  now,  Macao  in  China,  with  Dili,  Goa, 
and  Daman  on  the  Guzerat  and  Canarese  coasts,  are 
the  only  fragments  which  remain  to  them  of  an  em- 
pire which  Alexander  coveted  but  could  not  win. 

The  religious  conquests  of  the  Portuguese,  how- 
ever, have  survived  their  temporal  sovereignty,  and 
the  descendants  of  the  first  converts,  with  large 
additions  won  over  to  the  Church  of  Rome  by  the 
zeal  of  subsequent  missionaries,  are  still  to  be  found 
scattered  over  the  continent  of  India,  and  more 
especially  in  the  Madras  Presidency,  the  scene  of 
their  earliest  efforts  at  evangelization,  where  their 
numbers  are  very  considerable.  Political  influence, 
emanating  from  every  department  of  the  Govern- 
ment, was  undoubtedly  used  at  the  outset  to  promote 
Christianity  among  the  natives ;  for  that,  indeed,  was 
one  of  the  avowed  objects  of  the  invaders,  who  pro- 
fessed to  be  as  anxious  to  destroy  the  strongholds  of 
heathendom,  as  to  secure  territorial  dominion.  But 
the  withdrawal  of  State  cooperation,  consequent  on 
the  extinction  of  Portuguese  supremacy,  was  not 
followed,  as  might  have  been  expected,  by  any 
general  apostacy  of  the  proselytes ;  on  the  contrary, 


though  arrested  for  a  time,  the  work  of  conversion 
progressed,  and  fresh  native  churches  were  formed, 
whose  members  at  the  present  day  far  outnumber  the 
converts  to  Protestantism  made  by  the  combined 
efforts  of  Dutch,  American,  and  English  missionaries, 
of  all  denominations. 

How  are  we  to  account  for  this  remarkable  pheno- 
menon in  the  history  of  Christianity  in  India?  Whence 
comes  it  that  Roman  Catholic  missions  there  have 
ever  been  more  successful  than  missions  from  the 
Reformed  Churches  1  Whence,  that  their  converts, 
a  feeble  folk  though  they  be,  have  persistently 
clung  to  their  adopted  faith  amidst  all  the  political 
changes  which  have  surrounded  them,  the  social  in- 
fluences which  both  directly  and  indirectly  have  been 
levelled  against  them,  and  the  strenuous  exertions 
which  have  been  put  forth  to  win  them  over  to  a 
purer  creed  \  And,  supposing  the  case,  that  British 
domination  in  India  were  to  terminate  as  suddenly  as 
did  that  of  the  Portuguese,  is  it  probable  that  two 
centuries  later  there  would  be  found  amidst  its  ruins 
native  communities  professing  the  Reformed  religion 
as  we  now  find  congregations  of  native  Christians 
firmly  attached  to  the  Church  of  Rome  %  One  of 
our  own  Bishops  in  India,  after  describing  some  of 
the  old  Portuguese  churches  in  the  neighbourhood 
of  Bombay  makes  the  following  remarks  : — "  They 
are  melancholy  objects  to  look  at,  but  they  are  monu- 
ments, nevertheless,  of  departed  greatness,  of  a  love 
of  splendour  far  superior  to  the  anxiety  for  amassing 
money,  by   which   other  nations   have  been    chiefly 


actuated,  and  of  a  zeal  for  God  which,  if  not  accord- 
ing to  knowledge,  was  a  zeal  still,  and  a  sincere  one. 
It  was  painful  to  me,  at  the  time,  to  think,  how  few 
relics,  if  the  English  were  now  expelled  from  India, 
would  be  left  behind  of  their  religion,  their  power, 
or  their  civil  and  military  magnificence."1  During 
the  forty  years  which  have  elapsed  since  the  late 
lamented  Heber  penned  these  lines,  a  great  advance 
has  been  made  in  our  own  civil  and  political  status  in 
India,  and  much  has  undoubtedly  been  done  to  im- 
prove the  secular  and  intellectual  condition  of  the 
people  generally;  but  as  regards  the  diffusion  of  our 
religion  among  the  natives,  how  insignificantly  little 
has  been  effected,  especially  when  compared  with  the 
profuse  and  expensive  machinery  which  for  the  last 
century  has  been  set  in  motion  to  that  end  ! 

I  would  be  understood  as  alluding  to  this  subject 
in  its  purely  human  point  of  view,  and  wholly  apart 
from  all  supernatural  or  Divine  affinities ;  but  even 
under  that  aspect,  the  reflections  which  it  is  calcu- 
lated to  evoke  deserve  the  serious  consideration  of 
such  as  believe  that  Christianity  alone  can  regenerate 
India,  and  particularly  of  those  who,  whether  in  this 
country  or  on  the  spot,  are  engaged  in  promoting  its 
extension  among  our  fellow-subjects  in  that  vast 

To  discuss  this  interesting  topic  more  fully  would 
be  foreign  to  a  work  like  the  present,  and  perhaps 
an  apology  is  due  for  the  foregoing  intrusion  of  it. 
Readily  granting  the  same,  I  return  again  to  the 
narrative  of  our  Europe-bound  traveller. 

1  Bishop  Heber's  Journal,  vol.  iii.  p.  91. 


After  a  course  of  "about  three  thousand  miles" 
from  Cannanore,  the  San  Vincenzo  reached  Mozam- 
bique on  the  east  coast  of  Africa,  or^  as  the  coun- 
try was  then  called,  "Ethiopia."  They  saw  "  many 
lands"  on  the  way,  where  the  King  of  Portugal 
held  strong  fortresses,  but  whether  they  landed  at 
those  places  or  not  is  uncertain.  Varthema  enu- 
merates Malindi,  Mombasa,  Kilwah,  Sofala,  Pate, 
and  Brava,  but  omits  all  mention  of  Mukdishu  and 
Lamu  on  the  continent,  and  the  adjacent  islands  of 
Zanzibar  and  Pemba,  which  latter  is  called  by  the 
Arabs  Jezirat  el-Khaclhra,  or  the  Green  Island. 
Most  of  these  localities  had  been  captured  by  the 
Portuguese  before  our  author's  arrival,  and  several 
of  them  were  well  garrisoned.  The  conciliatory  policy 
adopted  by  Vasco  de  Gama  when  he  first  visited  this 
coast  in  1498  had  been  reversed  by  his  successors, 
whose  arrogant  pretensions,  inspired  by  a  thirst  after 
gold  and  conquest,  soon  brought  them  into  collision 
with  the  inhabitants,  who  were  eventually  obliged  to 
succumb  to  the  superior  arms  of  the  invaders.  Almost 
all  the  places  above-mentioned  were  at  this  period  in 
the  hands  of  the  Arabs,  whose  original  settlements  on 
the  coast  must  have  taken  place  at  a  very  early 
period.  Eschewing  the  knotty  question  of  the 
locality  of  the  Scriptural  "  Ophir,"  which  some  have 
attempted  to  identify  with  Sofala,  and  whether  Solo- 
mon was  supplied  with  "  ivory,  apes,  and  peacocks," 
by  Arab  traders  between  Eziongeber  and  the  east 
coast  of  Africa,  the  reader  will  find  in  the  following 
quotation  from  the  researches  of  Dr.  Krapf  a  valuable 


summary    of   the    more    authentic    history    of   these 
foreign  colonists. — 

"  It  is  well  known  that  the  Muhammeclan  Arabs, during  the 
first  period  of  their  history,  for  150  years,  overran  a  large 
section  of  Asia,  Africa,  and  Europe,  and  that  soon  after  the 
death  of  their  prophet  Muhammed  they  fell  a  prey  to  political 
and  religious  dissensions,  and  the  defeated  party  resolved  to 
abandon  the  land  of  their  birth.  Where  was  a  better  home 
to  be  found  than  the  fruitful  strand  of  Eastern  Africa? 
There  they  were  already  known,  and  would  be  safe  from 
the  pursuit  of  their  fanatical  conquerors.  It  seems  that  the 
first  settlements  of  the  kind  were  made  in  various  points  of  the 
East- African  coast  in  the  year  740  by  the  Emosaids,  or  ad- 
herents of  Said,  a  great  grandson  of  Ali,  the  prophet's  cousin 
and  son-in-law.  Said,  proclaimed  Caliph  by  the  rebels,  was 
defeated  and  slain,  on  which  his  adherents  were  obliged  to 
seek  safety  in  flight,  and  it  was  in  East  Africa  that  they 
found  refuge.  In  the  works  of  various  Arabian  historians 
and  geographers,  for  several  centuries  afterwards,  we  find  in- 
teresting notices  of  these  Arab  settlements.  From  all  these 
notices  it  is  to  be  gathered,  that  the  Muhammedan  Arabs 
founded  political  and  religious  states  or  towns  in  Eastern 
Africa,  and  that  their  migration  to  that  country  was  some- 
times voluntary,  sometimes  forced  upon  them.  Among  these 
Arabian  states  or  towns  the  most  prominent  are:  Mukdishu, 
Kilwah,  Brava,  Malindi,  and  Mombasa.  Mukdishu  was 
supreme  in  the  north,  while  Kilwah  was  queen  of  the  south, 
from  Zanzibar  to  Sofala.  With  the  declining  power  of  these 
two  states  and  towns,  Malindi  and  Mombasa,  situated  mid- 
way between  them,  appear  to  have  increased  in  influence 
and  importance.  Mukdishu  seems  to  have  been  founded 
between  a.d.  909-951  ;  and  Kilwah  between  a.d.  960-1000. 
It  is  likely  from  the  narrative  of  the  famous  Ibn  Batuta,1 
1  [See  Lee's  Translation,  pp.  55-57.] 


who  visited  Mombasa  about  a.d.  1330,  that  the  Wanika 
[a  native  tribe]  had  not  then  settled  in  the  vicinity  of  the 
coast.     ... 

"  These  Arabian  cities  and  communities  were  prosperous, 
and  in  some  degree  civilized  ;  but  they  were  deficient  in 
military  organization.  They  had  not  been  founded  by  con- 
querors, but  by  traders,  emigrants,  and  exiles,  who  behaved 
peaceably  to  the  natives,  and  so  developed  and  established 
their  influence  slowly,  but  at  the  same  time  more  surely. 
They  were  pacific  colonists,  and  by  the  trade  and  commerce 
which  they  originated,  the  natives  of  the  interior  could  not 
but  recognize  the  advantage  of  peaceful  intercourse  with  the 
strangers,  and  be  glad  of  their  presence.  .  .  .  But  the 
Arabs  were  not  to  remain  for  ever  in  exclusive  possession  of 
the  knowledge,  the  commerce,  and  the  power  of  Eastern  Africa, 
— a  possession  which  would  have  led  them  to  rule  and 
to  convert  the  whole  of  Southern  Africa.  Providence  inter- 
posed, and  at  the  right  time  led  into  those  waters  and  to 
that  coast  a  Christian  power,  to  check  the  progress  and 
weaken  the  influence  of  Muhammedanism." 

The  subsequent  domination  of  this  "  Christian  " 
power,  and  its  baneful  results,  are  thus  described  : — 

"  In  East  Africa,  Portugal  enriched  herself  by  levying 
tribute  and  taxes,  in  addition  to  her  enormous  gains  from 
the  gold-mines  of  Sofala ;  but  East  Africa  received  nothing 
in  return.  She  ruled  the  East-Africans  with  a  rod  of  iron, 
and  their  pride  and  cruelty  had  their  reward  in  the  bitter 
hatred  of  the  natives.  In  Eastern  Africa,  the  Portuguese 
have  left  nothing  behind  them  but  ruined  fortresses,  palaces, 
and  ecclesiastical  buildings.  Nowhere  is  there  to  be  seen  a 
single  trace  of  any  improvement  effected  by  them.  No 
wonder  that  the  Portuguese  rule  was  of  short  duration,  and 
that  it  fell  as  quickly  as  it  had  risen.  John  IV.  had,  indeed, 
restored  independence  to  Portugal  in  1640;  but  he  could 
no  longer  save  his  colonies.     In  1620,  Portugal  had  already 


lost  the  island  of  Hormuz,  and  its  loss  was  the  more  felt, 
because  it  gave  the  Arabs  of  Oman  courage  and  leisure  to 
extend  and  to  strengthen  their  influence  in  the  Persian 
Gulf  and  in  Eastern  Africa.  Portugal  had  no  longer  men 
like  Albuquerque,  capable  of  restoring  the  fallen  influence 
of  their  country  in  those  seas.  All  were  now  alike  corrupt 
and  incapable.  In  India  and  its  waters,  England  and 
Holland  had  appeared,  and  with  their  appearance  the  star  of 
Portugal  had  to  sink  to  the  horizon." 

Some  idea  of  the  hostile  relations  which  existed 
between  the  Portuguese  and  the  natives  towards  the 
middle  of  the  seventeenth  century,  may  be  gathered 
from  an  inscription  over  the  gateway  leading  into  the 
fortress  of  Mombasa.  I  had  not  time  to  transcribe 
it  during  my  short  stay  at  that  island  in  December 
1860,  but  relied  on  a  copy  in  my  possession,  which  I 
believe  was  taken  by  Dr.  Krapf.  The  following  is  a 
translation  of  the  original  Portuguese  : — 

"  In  1635,  Chief  Captain  Francisco  de  Xeixas  cle  Cabreira, 
aged  27  years,  after  having  commanded  this  fortress  for 
four  years,  rebuilt  it,  and  raised  this  corps-de-garde.  And 
he  reduced  into  submissio7i  to  His  Majesty  the  coast  of 
Malindi,  where  a  tyrant  king  had  sprung  up,  and  made  the 
kings  of  Tondo,  Mandra,  Lazieva,  and  Jaca,  tributaries. 
He  also  visited  Pate  and  Sio  with  a  punishment  never  before 
witnessed  in  India,  levelling  the  walls  thereof  to  the  ground. 
He  imposed  a  fine  on  the  Muzungidos ,  and  punished  Pemba 
and  its  rebel  people,  killing  the  petty  king,  who  had  been  set  up 
by  them  and  by  others  of  note,  obliging  the  Pariahs  to  pay 
to  His  Majesty  the  tribute  which  they  had  evaded  for  years. 
For  these  services,  he  teas  raised  to  the  dignity  of  Fidalgo  of 
His  Majesty' 's  Household, having  previously  received,  for  other 
similar  services,  the  decoration  of  the  Knight  of  the  Order  of 
Christ,  an  annuity  of  a  thousand  Reis,  and  six  years'  tenure 


of  the  Governorship  of  Jafampatas  and  four  of  that  of 
Bcligas,  with  flic  faculty  of  making  all  [appointments]  therein 
during  his  lifetime.  [This  inscription  teas  raised]  a.i>.  1639, 
when  Pedro  cle  Silvoa  was  Viceroy.'''' 

"  We  have  still  to  show  how  the  authority  of  the  Arabian 
princes  of  Oman  first  rose,  and  gradually  replaced  that  of  the 
Portuguese  along  the  East- African  coast.  Oman  comprises 
the  north  and  south-eastern  portions  of  Arabia,  which  lie  on 
the  Gulf  of  Persia  and  the  Indian  Ocean.  In  the  year  1624, 
after  great  disorders  and  dissensions,  Oman  and  its  inhabi- 
tants became  subject  to  the  rule  of  a  sagacious  and  energetic 
Imam,  Nasir  bin  Murshid,  the  Ya'arabite.  After  establishing 
his  sovereignty  in  Oman,  he  planned  the  complete  expulsion 
of  the  Portuguese  from  their  Arabian  and  African  posses- 
sions. .  .  .  His  victories  over  the  Portuguese  were  con- 
tinued by  his  cousin  and  successor,  Sultan  bin  Seif  bin 
Malik,  who  took  Maskat  in  1658,  leaving  the  Portuguese 
then  no  seaport  of  any  consequence  on  the  coast  of  Arabia. 
His  second  son,  Sultan  Seif,  who  defeated  his  brother 
Bel'arab  and  usurped  the  throne,  at  the  request  of  the 
people  of  Mombasa,  sent  a  fleet  to  Eastern  Africa,  captured 
Mombasa,  Zanzibar,  and  Kilwah,  and  laid  siege  to  Mozam- 
bique in  1698.  He  placed  a  governor  in  Mombasa  who 
was  nominally  subject  to  Oman.  After  the  fall  of  Mombasa, 
the  Portuguese  on  "the  East-African  coast  were  everywhere 
massacred  or  expelled ;  and  there  was  an  end  of  their 
sovereignty  from  Cape  Delgado  to  Cape  Gardafui.  Even 
the  town  of  Mukdishu,  which  had  retained  its  independence 
during  the  period  of  the  Portuguese  rule,  placed  itself  under 
the  protection  of  the  princes  of  Oman."1 

The  different   towns  and   forts  on   the  coasts,  to- 
gether with  the  adjacent  islands,  from  Cape  Delgado 

1    Ivkaim's  Travels  and  Missionary  Labours  in  Eastern  Africa, 
pp.  521-29. 


to  Mukdishu,  still  remain  in  the  hands  of  the  'Amman 
Seyyeds  or  Sultans ;  but  by  a  recent  arrangement 
the  African  territories  have  been  detached  from  the 
parent  state,  and  placed  under  the  sovereignty  of 
Seyyed  Majicl,  a  younger  son  of  the  late  Seyyed  Said, 
known  to  Europeans  as  the  Imam  of  Maskat,  his 
eldest  brother  Seyyed  Thoweynee  retaining  possession 
of  'Amman. 

But  it  is  high  time  to  rejoin  our  party  whom  we 
left  at  Mozambique.  During  their  fifteen  days'  resi- 
dence at  that  island,  they  made  several  trips  on  the 
mainland,  and  Varthema  gives  a  graphic  description 
of  the  physiognomy  of  the  aboriginal  3fakuas,  their 
strange  jargon,  and  peculiar  and  scanty  costume. 
The  excursionists  carried  torches  to  frighten  the  ele- 
phants which  abounded  in  the  neighbourhood,  but, 
notwithstanding  this  precaution,  they  were  chased  by 
three  dams  followed  by  their  young,  and  only  escaped 
by  running  up  a  mountain.  On  this  occasion  also, 
they  met  some  natives  who  dwelt  in  caves,  and  our 
author's  account  of  their  bartering  with  them  reveals 
the  cupidity  of  the  foreigners  and  the  simplicity  of 
the  barbarians.  The  former  had  the  dishonesty  to 
demand  thirty  bullocks  for  a  bombardier's  rasor  and 
a  little  bell,  with  the  addition  of  a  shirt  which  Var- 
thema incontinently  divested  himself  of  for  the  sake 
of  obtaining  a  meal  of  fresh  meat.  They  were  even- 
tually content  with  fifteen  head  of  cattle,  on  the  un- 
derstanding, however,  that  the  owners  should  conduct 
the  animals  to  the  top  of  the  mountain.  On  the  way, 
and  while  these  Christians  were  exulting  over  their 


extortionate  bargain,  a  great  noise  was  heard  which 
was  supposed  to  arise  from  a  warm  discussion  among 
the  natives,  as  to  which  of  their  number  should  be- 
come the  happy  possessor  of  the  little  bell.  What 
a  picture  of  civilized  and  uncivilized  humanity  ! 
Europe  and  Africa ! 

Madagascar,  or  the  Island  of  San  Lorenzo,  as  it 
was  then  called,  was  sighted  on  the  voyage  to  the 
Cape,  beyond  which  the  vessels  composing  the  fleet 
were  scattered  by  a  furious  storm,  and  did  not  meet 
again  till  they  reached  Portugal.  That  in  which  our 
author  sailed  passed  under  St.  Helena  and  Ascension, 
at  which  latter  place  he  notices  the  swarms  of  boo- 
bies which  alighted  on  the  deck,  and  were  easily 
taken  with  the  hand.  Next,  they  reached  the  Azores, 
remaining  for  two  days  at  the  island  of  Terceira,  and 
finally  arrived  at  Lisbon, — in  Varthema's  case,  after 
an  absence  from  Europe  of  about  five  years.  He 
leaves  to  the  conception  of  his  readers  the  delight 
which  he  experienced  at  being  once  more  within  easy 
reach  of  home,  while  he  himself  sets  off  on  a  visit  to 
Don  Emanuel  of  Portugal.  That  deservedly  "  For- 
tunate" monarch  welcomed  the  enterprising  traveller 
to  his  court,  where  he  detained  him  several  days  lis- 
tening with  pleasure  to  the  interesting  tale  of  his 
discoveries  and  adventures,  and  was  graciously  pleased 
to  confirm  the  honour  of  knighthood  which  had  been 
conferred  upon  him  by  the  Viceroy  of  India  after  the 
battle  of  Ponani.  Receiving  his  Majesty's  permission 
to  depart,  Varthema  hurried  away  to  the  land  of  his 
birth,  and  takes  leave  of  us  from  the  city  of  Rome  as 
abruptly  as  I  bring  my  following  him  to  a  close. 


[n  the  annotations  on  the  text,  I  have  specified  my 
obligations  to  Professor  Owen,  to  J.  J.  Bennett,  Esq., 
and  to  R.  H.  Major,  Esq.,  of  the  British  Museum, 
and  also  to  C.  R.  Markham,  Esq.,  for  their  prompt 
aid  where  my  own  knowledge  was  at  fault.  A  similar 
recognition  is  due  to  J.  Winter  Jones,  Esq.,  my  col- 
league in  the  preparation  of  this  work,  for  his  uni- 
form kindness  in  aiding  me  in  my  part  of  the  task. 
To  J.  Crawfurd,  Esq.,  whose  learned  researches  into 
the  history  of  that  region  were  my  principal  guide  in 
tracing  our  author's  route  through  the  Indian  Archi- 
pelago, I  owe  my  best  thanks.  And  last,  though 
not  least,  I  feel  deeply  indebted  to  my  friend  Colonel 
H.  Yule,  C.B.  for  many  useful  suggestions,  and, 
moreover,  for  having  volunteered  to  compile  the 
Table  of  Contents,  and  also  the  valuable  Index  at 
the  end  of  this  volume,  which  may  justly  elicit  the 
encomium,  finis  coronat  opus. 

I  had  designed  to  write  an  Introduction,  but  have, 
I  fear,  written  a  book.  The  mistake  will  be  un- 
accompanied with  regret,  if  the  attempt  be  found 
useful  to  the  Members  of  the  Hakluyt  Society  in 
illustrating  the  early  and  wonderful  travels  of  old 
Ludovico  di  Varthema. 

George  Percy  Badger. 

7,  Dawson  Place,  Bayswater, 
November  1863. 



I  am  surprised  to  find  that  in  transcribing  a  quotation 
from  Barbosa  respecting  the  City  of  Bengala,  (note  3 
on  p.  210,)  I  omitted  a  part  of  his  account  which, 
had  the  passage  been  more  carefully  studied,  might 
have  prevented  my  erroneous  identification  of  Var- 
thema's  Banghella  with  the  capital  of  Gour,  and 
afforded  me  at  the  same  time  a  clue  to  the  position 
of  the  former  town.  Premising  that  Barbosa  was 
travelling  from  west  to  east,  and  had  just  before 
described  the  kingdom  of  Orixa,  (Orissa,)  and  the 
Guengita,  or  Ganges,  whereby  the  Hoogly  branch  is 
clearly  indicated,  he  proceeds  to  say : — 

"  Beyond  the  Ganges,  onward  towards  the  East,  is  the 
kingdom  of  Bengala,  wherein  there  are  many  places  and 
cities,  as  Avell  inland  as  on  the  sea-coast.  Those  in  the  in- 
terior are  inhabited  by  Gentiles,  who  are  subject  to  the  king 
of  Bengala,  who  is  a  Moor ;  and  the  stations  on  the  coast  are 
full  of  Moors  and  Gentiles,  among  whom  are  many  mer- 
chants and  traders  to  all  parts.  For  this  sea  forms  a  gulf 
which  bends  towards  the  north,  at  the  head  of  which  is 
situated  a  great  city  inhabited  by  Moors,  which  is  called 
Bengala,  with  a  good  port.  The  inhabitants  thereof  are 
white  men,  who  are  well-disposed.  In  the  same  city  there 
are  many  foreigners  from  all  parts,  including  Arabia,  Persia, 
and  Abyssinia.     The  country  being  very  extensive,  and  the 


climate  temperate,  many  persons  frequent  it,  and  all  are 
great  merchants,  who  possess  large  ships  made  like  those  of 
Mecca,  and  some  like  those  of  China,  called  Giunchi,  which 
are  very  large,  and  carry  large  cargoes,  and  with  these  they 
navigate  towards  Coromandel,  Malabar,  Cambaia,  Tarnasscri, 
Sumatra,  Zeilam,  and  Malaca,  and  they  trade  with  all  kinds 
of  merchandize  from  one  place  to  the  other."  Ramusio, 
vol.  i.  p.  315. 

The  foregoing  extract,  taken  in  conjunction  with 
Varthema's  narrative,  is  satisfactory  evidence  that  a 
city  called  Banghclla  or  Bcngala  existed  at  this  period, 
that  it  was  a  seaport  of  considerable  trade,  and  was 
situated  beyond  the  Hooghly,  at  the  head  of  the  gulf 
known  in  those  days  as  the  Gulf  of  Bengal.  It  is 
remarkable  that  Barbosa  makes  no  allusion  whatever 
either  to  Satigan  or  Chatigam,  (Satgong  and  Chitta- 
gong ;)  but  in  the  Sommario  de  Regni,  etc.,  as  given 
by  Ramusio,  the  former  place  is  mentioned  under  the 
name  of  Asedegam,  and  some  further  particulars  are 
supplied  respecting  the  city  of  Bengala.  After  de- 
scribing the  kingdom  of  Bengala,  the  author  sub- 

"  Of  the  seaports  of  the  kingdom,  the  principal  is  in  the 
city  of  Bengala,  from  which  the  kingdom  takes  its  name. 
One  goes  in  two  days  from  the  mouth  of  the  Ganges  to  the 
city,  which  [Mouth  of  the  Ganges]  now  goes  by  the  name  of 
Sino  Gangetico  or  Gulf  of  Bengal,  and  in  the  best  roadsteads 
the  water  is  three  braccia  deep.  The  city  contains  about 
40,000  hearths,  and  the  king  has  a  residence  there  at  all 
times,  which  is  the  only  one  covered  with  tiles,  and  is  built 
with  well-made  bricks. 

"There  is  also  another  port,  called  Asedegam,  towards  the 
kingdom  of  Oriza,  which  is  a  good  port,  with  a  wide  en- 



trance,  where  there  is  a  good  and  wealthy  city,  containing 
many  merchants,  and  about  10,000  hearths.  These  are  the 
principal  mercantile  cities  of  Bengala."     Ramusio,  vol.  i. 


p.  ooo. 

As  far  as  my  researches  go,  these  are  the  only 
circumstantial  accounts  which  we  possess  of  the 
ancient  Bengala,  subsequent  to  which  I  find  it  men- 
tioned by  Purchas  and  Mandelslo,  but  by  no  other 
writers.  Mandelslo  does  not  appear  to  have  visited 
it  personally,  and  merely  enumerates  it  among  the 
principal  cities  of  the  then  kingdom  of  Bengal.  (See 
a  quotation  from  his  Voyages  in  the  note  on  p.  211.) 
Purchas  has  the  following  : — 

"  The  kingdome  of  Bengala  is  very  large,  and  hath  of 
coast  one  hundred  and  twentie  leagues,  and  as  much  within 
land.  Francis  Fernandas  measureth  it  from  the  confines  of 
the  kingdome  of  Ramu  or  Porto  Grande  [Chittagong]  to 
Palmerine,  ninety  miles  beyond  Porto  Pequene,  in  all  six 
hundred  miles  long.  The  river  Chaberis,  (which  some  call 
Guenga,  and  think  it  to  be  the  ancient  Ganges,)  watereth 
it :  it  is  plentiful  in  rice,  wheat,  sugar,  ginger,  long-pepper, 
cotton  and  silke,  and  enjoy  eth  a  very  wholesome  ay  re.  The 
inhabitants  neere  the  shoare  are,  (for  the  most  part,)  Ma- 
humetans,  and  so  also  was  the  king,  before  the  Great  Mogore, 
(one  likewise  of  his  owne  sect,)  conquered  him.  Gouro,  the 
seat  royall,  and  Bengala,  are  faire  cities.  Of  this,  the  Gulfe, 
sometimes  called  Gangeticus,  now  beareth  name  Golfo  di 
Bengala.  Chatigan  is  also  reckoned  amongst  these  cities." 
Voyages,  vol.  v.  p.  508. 

Of  the  travellers  subsequent  to  Barbosa,  Caesar 
Fredericke  (a.d.  1563)  represents  Satigan  as  a  flour- 
ishing commercial  port,  and  locates  it  120  miles  from 
the  mouth  of  the  Ganges  (Ilooghly,)  but  he  does  not 


allude  cither  to  Bengala  or  Chatigam.  (Ramusio, 
vol.  i.  p.  392.)  Ralph  Fitch,  twenty  years  later, 
describes  both  S  a  tag  an  and  Chatigan,  and  tells  us 
that  Chatigan  was  called  "  Porto  Grande "  by  the 
Portuguese  ;  but  he  says  nothing  about  Bengala. 
In  Hamilton's  time,  a.d.  1688 — 1723,  the  town  of 
Hooghly  appears  to  have  succeeded  Satigan  as  the 
chief  seaport  on  the  western  branch  of  the  Ganges, 
for  he  represents  the  former  as  "  driving  a  great 
trade,  because  all  foreign  goods  are  brought  thither 
for  import,  and  all  goods  of  the  product  of  Bengal 
are  brought  hither  for  exportation,"  which  circum- 
stance sufficiently  accounts  for  his  not  naming  Sati- 
gan. "  Chittagoung,  or,  as  the  Portuguese  call  it, 
Xatigam,"  he  describes  at  some  length,  but  he  never 
mentions  the  city  of  Bengala,  which  the  earlier  writers 
located  at  no  great  distance  from  that  town.  (See 
Pinkerton,  vol.  ix.  p.  414-16.     Vol.  viii.  p.  415.) 

Turning  from  the  travellers  to  the  historians  of 
the  period  under  review,  one  is  surprised  to  find  the 
same  omission.  De  Barros,  as  quoted  by  Ramusio, 
in  describing  the  Ganges,  says  : — 

"  Its  first  mouth,  which  is  on  the  West,  is  called  Satigan, 
from  a  city  of  that  name  situated  in  its  streams,  where  our 
people  carry  on  their  mercantile  transactions.  The  other, 
which  is  on  the  East,  comes  out  very  near  another  and  more 
famous  port  called  Chatigam,  which  is  frequented  by  most 
of  the  merchants  who  arrive  at  and  depart  from  this  king- 
dom."    Ramusio,  vol.  i.  p.  390. 

De  Faria  y  Souza  is  equally  explicit  with  regard 
to  Satigan  and  Chatigan,  but  never  alludes  to  Ben- 


yala.  After  indicating  the  line  of  coast  between  the 
Ilooghly  and  the  eastern  branch  of  the  Ganges,  he 
writes:  — 

"  Within  this  interval  is  contained  the  Bay  of  Bengala, 
called  by  some  Sinus  Gangeticus,  because  the  river  Ganges, 
after  watering  the  country  of  Bengala,  falls  into  this  bay 
about  the  latitude  of  23  degrees.  .  .  .  Though  the  river 
Ganges  has  many  mouths,  the  two  most  remarkable  are  called 
Satigan  to  the  west,  and  Chatigan  on  the  east,  near  one  hun- 
dred leagues  distant  from  each  other." 

And,  again  :  — 

"  This  river  [Ganges]  has  its  springs  in  the  mountains  of 
Great  Tartary,  from  whence  it  runs  to  the  southward  near 
600  leagues,  and  divides  India  into  two  parts,  Intra  and  Ex- 
tra Gangem.  In  the  mouth  that  falls  into  the  sea  to  the 
eastward  is  the  city  Chatigam,  on  that  to  the  westward  Sati- 
gam.  The  principal  city  is  Gouro,  seated  on  the  banks  of 
Ganges,  three  leagues  in  length,  containing  one  million  two 
hundred  thousand  families,  and  well  fortified."  Portuguese 
Asia,  translated  by  Stevens,  vol.  i.  pp.  96-97,  416-17. 

The  absence  of  all  allusion  to  Bengala  by  travellers 
and  historians  generally  subsequent  to  Varthema  and 
T3arbosa,  with  the  exception  of  Mandelslo  and  Purchas, 
is  the  more  remarkable  from  the  fact  of  its  appear- 
ance, together  with  Chatigam,  in  most  of  the  early 
maps  of  Asia  and  of  India,  and  its  reproduction  by 
succeeding  cartographers  for  nearly  two  centuries 
later.  The  following  is  a  list  of  the  principal  maps 
belonging  to  the  British  Museum,  arranged  in  chrono- 
logical order,  wherein  both  cities  are  noted  :  — 






Gastaldi    - 


Venetia,  a.d. 



Bengala  and  Catigan 






-     - 

Ben  gala, 







-     - 





Bleauw1    - 



-     - 





Mariette   - 



.     .. 








-     - 




Visscher  - 



-     - 







-     - 





DeWitt   - 



-     - 








-     - 







-     - 




Visscher   - 



-     - 




Mathys     - 



-     - 







-     - 


Hindoostan     id. 



-     - 







-     - 


To  the  above  I  may  add  that  in  the  map  of  India 
Orienlalis  attached  to  Patavino's  Geography,  (date, 
a.d.  1597,)  Bengala  is  marked  as  a  town  situated  at 
the  head  of  the  gulf,  on  the  right  bank  of  the  eastern 
mouth  of  the  Ganges.  It  also  occupies  the  same 
position  in  Hondius  his  Map  of  the  East  Indies,  as 
given  in  Vol.  i.  of  Purchas. 

The  following  cartographers,  immediately  succeed- 
ing Ottens,  omit  the  city  of  Bengala*  and  the  name 
does  not  reappear  in  any  map  of  a  subsequent  date: — 

Asia  -  Hasius 
India  -  Mayer 
Hindoostan  Blair   - 

-  Nurnberg,  1744 

id.,        1748 

-  London,      1773 

-  Satigan [for Chatigam]. 

-  Chatigan. 

-  Chitta^ong  orShatig;an. 

The  time  when  Bengala  thus  ceases  to  be  repre- 

1  This  is  most  probably  the  map  referred  to  by  Colonel  Yule, 
(see  p.  lxxx.  ante.)  He  writes  the  author's  name  Bleau,  mis- 
printed Blcan  ;  but  in  the  copy  of  the  map  in  the  British  Museum  it 
is  spelt  as  above. 


sented  in  the  maps  corresponds  with  RenneH's  state- 
ment, that  the  city  "  appears  to  have  been  in  exist- 
ence during  the  early  part  of  the  last  century."  (See 
p.  lxxxi.  ante.) 

The  next  subject  which  calls  for  inquiry  is  the  site 
of  this  ancient  Bengala.  All  the  maps  enumerated 
in  the  first  of  the  foregoing  lists,  with  the  exception 
of  the  oldest  one  by  Gastaldi,  locate  Bengala  either 
on  the  north-east,  due  east,  or  south-east  of  Chatigam. 
Now,  if  the  relative  situation  of  the  two  cities  cor- 
responded with  one  or  other  of  these  descriptions, 
it  is  difficult  to  conceive  how  the  site  of  Bengala 
could  have  been  carried  away  by  the  river,  as  Rennell 
supposes,  and  that  of  Chatigam,  or  Chittagong,  left 
intact.  Reverse  the  position  of  the  two  places,  and 
such  a  result  would  not  only  be  probable,  but  would 
moreover  serve  to  account  for  the  present  greater 
depth  of  the  Gulf  of  Bengal  in  that  direction  as  com- 
pared with  the  delineations  of  it  given  in  the  old  maps, 
and  also  for  the  increased  distance  which  now  appears 
to  exist  between  Chittagong  and  the  eastern  mouth 
of  the  Ganges.  Singularly  enough,  Gastaldi  does  so 
transpose  the  sites  of  the  two  cities,  placing  Catigan 
on  the  south-east  of  Bengala,  as  will  be  seen  from  the 
accompanying  section  copied  from  his  map. 

This  alone  is  but  slender  ground  whereon  to  form 
an  hypothesis  ;  nevertheless,  the  inference  which  I 
am  disposed  to  draw  therefrom  receives  support  from 
the  manner  in  which  De  Barros  and  De  Faria  y  Souza 
describe  the  Ganges  in  the  extracts  already  quoted 
from  their  writings.     Both  profess  to  indicate  its  two 


extremities  where  it  debouches  into  the  sea,  and  in 
doing  so  both  select  Satigan  as  its  western  and  Chati- 
gam as  its  eastern  boundary ;  whereas,  had  Bengala 
been  to  the  south-eastward  or  southward  of  Chatigam, 
it  is  presumable  that,  standing  as  Barbosa  tells  us  it 
did  on  the  mouth  of  the  nether  Ganges,  they  would 
have  chosen  it,  rather  than  Chatigam,  to  mark  the 
eastern  termination  of  that  river. 

In  the  absence,  therefore,  of  any  direct  proof  to 
the  contrary,  beyond  the  not  very  reliable  informa- 
tion contained  in  the  old  atlases,  I  am  inclined  to 
infer  that  Bengala  occupied  a  position  between  the 
Hattia  and  Sundeep  islands,  situated  at  the  present 
mouth  of  the  Brahmaputra,  which  I  conceive  to  be 
the  eastern  branch  of  the  Ganges  of  the  earlier  geo- 
graphers, and  have  so  placed  it,  marked  with  a  star, 
in  the  map  attached  to  this  volume.  That  I  may  be 
mistaken  is  more  than  possible  ;  but  it  is  worth  while 
hazarding  an  erroneous  opinion  on  a  subject  of  this 
nature,  if  it  were  only  for  the  sake  of  eliciting  ulterior 
research  and  discussion,  which  may  result  in  defining 
the  correct  site  of  the  ancient  city  of  Bengala. 

G.  P.  B. 


Go,  traverse  distant  lands,  in  each  you'll  find 
Some  in  the  place  of  those  you  leave  behind  : 
Some,  it  may  chance,  of  more  congenial  hearts, — 

Sympathy  is  life's  charm, — its  bane  ennui, — 

No  honour  lies  in  inactivity, — 
Then  quit  your  home,  go,  range  in  foreign  parts. 
The  stagnant  puddle  foul  and  fetid  grows, 
Healthful  and  clear  the  running  fountain  flows  : 
Unless  the  changes  of  the  moon  on  high 
Revealed  the  future  to  the  sage's  eye, 
He  would  not  watch  her  aspect  in  the  sky  : 
Unless  he  left  his  den,  the  forest-king 

Would  win  no  trophies  of  the  sylvan  war  : 
Unless  the  arrow  parted  from  the  string, 

It  could  not  hit  the  destined  mark  afar  : 
The  Tibr,2  when  from  its  native  mine  cast  forth, 
Appears  as  vile  unprofitable  earth ; 

The  aloes-wood  enjoys  but  slight  esteem 
In  its  own  land, — mere  fuel  for  the  hearth  ; 
Let  either  quit  the  country  of  its  birth, 

The  one,  an  ore  all-coveted  we  deem, 
The  other,  a  perfume  of  priceless  worth. 

1  Translated  from  the  Arabic.     Tor  the  English  versification,  the  Editor  is 
indebted  to  the  Eev.  P.  G.  Hill. 

2  Tibr  means  unwronght  gold,  either  in  the  form  of  dust  or  nuggets.     The 
word  is  also  applied  to  designate  native  ores  generally. 


of  Ludovico  di  Varthema,   of  Bologna, 

in    Egypt,  in    Syria,    in    Arabia    Deferta    and 

Felix,     in     Perfia,     in     India,      and     in 

Ethiopia.     The  religion,  mode  of  life, 

and  cuftoms,   of  all   the   aforefaid 

Provinces,     with     the     Grace 

and  Privilege  hereinafter 


[For  the  Publishers'  unities  ami  Jate  of  publicatiou,  see  the  end  of  the  volume  on  p.  298.] 


f  Translated  from  the  original  Latin  by  the  Editor.] 

RAPHAEL,  by  Divine  grace,  Bishop  of  Portueri, 
Cardinal  of  Saint  George,  Chamberlain  of  our 
Most  Holy  Lord  the  Pope,  and  of  the  Holy  Roman 
Church,  to  alt  and  singular,  by  whatsoever  name 
called,  and  with  whatsoever  dignity  or  office  invested, 
and  to  all  others  whom  it  does  or  may  concern,  to 
whom  these  our  letters  may  come, — Peace  in  the 
Lord  for  ever. 

Whereas  among  other  subjects  and  sciences  which, 
as  well  by  the  inspiration  of  genius  as  by  art  and 
experience,  promote  the  benefit,  usefulness,  and 
enjoyment  of  mankind,  and  by  transmission  from 
hand  to  hand  are  enlarged  and  illustrated,  the  de- 
scription and  measurement  of  the  world  and  of  parts 
of  the  earth,  which  the  Greeks  call  Cosmography, 
Geography,  Topography,  Geometry,  and  other  like 
names,  do  not  hold  the  last  place,  and  yield  no  less 
pleasure  than  profit ;  on  which  account  those  who 
have  devoted  themselves  to  such  studies  have  always 
been  held  in  the  highest  honour,  and  have  been 
abundantly  rewarded. — Therefore,  whereas  our  well- 
beloved    friend    Ludovico   Vartomanus   of   Bologna, 


who  (as  we  are  assured)  has  for  the  space  of  seven 
years  travelled  over  the  most  remote  and  hardly- 
known  regions  of  Asia  and  Africa,  and  has  largely 
written  in  the  vernacular  tongue  of  their  sites,  seas, 
rivers,  pools,  lakes,  forests,  mountains,  cities,  lands, 
people,  and  their  established  manners,  rites,  laws,  and 
other  memorable  things,  and  has  corrected  many 
places,  (as  one  may  well  do  who  sees  all  with  his  own 
eyes,  and  has  not  merely  heard  thereof  or  received  it 
from  others,)  in  Ptolemy,  Strabo,  Pliny,  and  other 
most  famous  writers,  and  has  also  added  much  to 
what  others  have  written  thereon  up  to  this  time. — It 
is  our  pleasure,  being  moreover  advised  thereto  by 
many  other  Most  Reverend  Cardinals  of  the  Apostolic 
See,  that  what  he  has  committed  to  writing  and 
collected  into  a  volume,  should  be  printed  for  the 
public  use  and  study  of  the  things  therein  contained, 
and  that  it  should  be  held  worthy,  not  only  of  praise 
and  commendation,  but  of  ample  reward.  We,  being 
desirous  (as  is  meet)  to  assist  him  as  far  as  we  are  able, 
and  to  recompense  his  industry  with  all  due  favours, 
do,  by  these  presents,  proclaim,  decree,  and  inhibit, 
in  virtue  of  a  mandate  from  our  Most  Holy  Lord  the 
Pope  in  person,  communicated  to  us  by  word  of 
mouth  to  that  effect,  and  by  the  authority  of  our 
Chamberlain's  office,  that  all  Printers  who  shall  be 
applied  to  by  the  said  Ludovico,  that  they  print  his 
writings  on  his  own  request  or  that  of  any  of  his 
heirs;  and  that  all  other  Printers  abstain  from  print- 
ing them,  and  that  no  Printers  or  persons  of  any 
other  condition  whatsoever,  either  of  themselves,  or 


through  any  other  or  others,  shall  dare  or  presume  to 
sell  the  printed  books  or  volumes  of  the  said  Ludo- 
vico,  without  the  consent  of  the  said  Ludovico  or  of 
his  acknowledged  heirs,  for  the  space  of  ten  years  to 
come,  to  be  reckoned  from  the  date  of  their  first 
impression  ;  and,  further,  that  they  lend  no  aid, 
counsel  or  countenance,  to  either  Printers  or  Venders 
of  the  same,  against  the  wishes  of  the  said  Ludovico 
and  his  heirs,  under  the  penalty  of  one  hundred 
ducats  of  gold  to  be  exacted  for  every  counterfeit 
and  from  every  one  so  counterfeiting,  without  any 
other  declaration  of  the  fact,  through  the  medium  of 
the  Apostolic  Chamber,  to  be  applied  to  the  use  of 
the  said  Ludovico  or  his  heirs.  We  further  command 
and  inhibit,  under  the  same  penalty,  all  those  whom 
it  may  concern,  that  this  our  edict,  decree,  and  will, 
be  executed  in  like  manner  at  the  instance  of  the 
said  Ludovico,  or  of  his  successors  and  heirs,  for  the 
space  of  the  aforesaid  ten  years,  against  all  and  every 
one  who,  in  any  manner,  or  under  any  pretext,  shall 
be  guilty  of  counterfeit, — the  Apostolical  constitu- 
tions, ordinances,  statutes,  and  customs,  even  when 
confirmed  by  oath,  also  the  privileges  and  licenses 
granted  to  any  persons  whatsoever,  under  any  words 
or  form  of  words,  notwithstanding. 

Given  at  Rome,  at  our  Palace  of  Saint  Laurence 
in  Damaso,  the  xviith  day  of  November  m.d.x.,  with 
the  usual  seal  of  our  Chamberlain's  office  appended. 

MATTHEUS  BON  FINIS,  Secretarius. 








There  have  been  many  men  who  have  devoted  themselves 
to  the  investigation  of  the  things  of  this  world,  and  by  the 
aid  of  divers  studies,  journeys,  and  very  exact  relations,  have 
endeavoured  to  accomplish  their  desire.  Others,  again,  of 
more  perspicacious  understandings,  to  whom  the  earth  has 
not  sufficed,  such  as  the  Chaldeans  and  Phoenicians,  have 
begun  to  traverse  the  highest  regions  of  Heaven  with  careful 
observations  and  watchings  ;  from  all  which  I  know  that 
each  has  gained  most  deserved  and  high  praise  from  others 
and  abundant  satisfaction  to  themselves.  Wherefore  I,  feel- 
ing a  very  great  desire  for  similar  results,  and  leaving  alone 
the  Heavens  as  a  burthen  more  suitable  for  the  shoulders  of 
Atlas  and  of  Hercules,  determined  to  investigate  some  small 
portion  of  this  our   terrestrial  globe  ;    and  not  having  any 


%  THE    TRAVELS    OF 

inclination  (knowing  myself  to  be  of  very  slender  understand- 
ing) to  arrive  at  my  desire  by  study  or  conjectures,  I 
determined,  personally,  and  with  my  own  eyes,  to  endeavour 
to  ascertain  the  situations  of  places,  the  qualities  of  peoples, 
the  diversities  of  animals,  the  varieties  of  the  fruit-bearing 
and  odoriferous  trees  of  Egypt,  Syria,  Arabia  Deserta  and 
Felix,  Persia,  India  and  Ethiopia,  remembering  well  that 
the  testimony  of  one  eye-witness  is  worth  more  than  ten 
heard-says.  Having  then,  by  Divine  assistance,  in  part  ac- 
complished my  object  and  examined  various  provinces  and 
foreign  nations,  it  appeared  to  me  that  I  had  done  nothing  if 
I  kept  hidden  within  myself  the  things  I  had  witnessed  and 
experienced,  instead  of  communicating  them  to  other  studious 
men.  Wherefore  I  bethought  myself  to  give  a  very  faithful 
description  of  this  my  voyage,  according  to  my  humble 
abilities,  thinking  thereby  to  do  an  action  which  would  be 
agreeable  to  my  readers  ;  for  that,  whereas  I  procured  the 
pleasure  of  seeing  new  manners  and  customs  by  very  great 
dangers  and  insupportable  fatigue,  they  will  enjoy  the  same  ad- 
vantage and  pleasure,  without  discomfort  or  danger,  by  merely 
reading.  Reflecting,  then,  to  whom  I  might  best  address 
this  my  laborious  little  work,  you,  Most  Illustrious  and  Most 
Excellent  Lady,  occurred  to  me  as  being  a  special  observer 
of  noteworthy  things,  and  a  lover  of  every  virtue.  Nor  did 
my  judgment  appear  to  me  vain,  considering  the  infused 
learning  transferred  by  the  radiant  light  of  that  Most 
Illustrious  and  Excellent  Lord  the  Duke  of  Urbino  your 
Father,  being  as  it  were  to  us  a  sun  of  arms  and  of  science. 

LUD0V1C0    Dl    VARTHEMA.  3 

I  do  riot  speak  of  the  very  Excellent  Lord  your  Brother, 
who  (although  still  a  young  man)  has  so  distinguished  him- 
self in  his  Latin  and  Greek  studies  as  to  be  spoken  of  as 
almost  a  Demosthenes  and  a  Cicero.  "Wherefore,  having 
derived  every  virtue  from  such  broad  and  clear  streams,  you 
cannot  do  other  than  take  pleasure  in  honourable  works  and 
entertain  a  great  desire  for  them.  He  who  can  justly  appre- 
ciate them,  would  willingly  go  with  his  corporeal  feet  where 
he  flies  with  the  wings  of  his  mind,  remembering  that  one  of 
the  praises  awarded  to  the  most  wise  and  eloquent  Ulysses 
was,  that  he  had  seen  many  customs  of  men  and  many 
countries.  But  as  your  Ladyship  is  occupied  with  the  affairs 
of  your  Most  Illustrious  Lord  and  Consort  (whom,  like 
another  Artemisia,  you  love  and  respect),  and  about  the  dis- 
tinguished family  which,  with  admirable  rule,  you  adorn  by 
your  graces,  I  say  it  will  suffice  if  amongst  your  other  good 
works  you  will  feed  your  mind  with  this  fruitful,  although, 
perhaps,  unpolished  reading,  not  acting  like  many  other 
ladies  who  lend  their  ears  to  light  songs  and  vain  words, 
taking  no  account  of  time,  unlike  the  angelic  mind  of  your 
Ladyship,  which  allows  no  moment  to  pass  without  some 
good  fruit.  Your  kindness  will  easily  supply  all  want  of 
skill  in  the  connection  of  the  narrative,  grasping  only  the 
truth  of  the  facts.  And  if  these,  my  labours,  should  prove 
agreeable  to  you  and  meet  with  your  approbation,  I  shall 
consider  that  I  have  received  sufficient  praise  and  satisfaction 
for  my  long  wanderings,  my  rather  fearful  exile,  during 
which   I    have    endured,   innumerable  times,    hunger    and 


4  THE    TRAVELS,    ETC. 

thirst,  cold  and  heat,  war,  imprisonment,  and  an  infinite 
number  of  other  dangerous  inconveniences,  and  shall  gain 
fresh  courage  for  that  other  journey  which  I  hope  to  under- 
take in  a  short  time  ;  for  having  examined  some  parts  of  the 
countries  and  islands  of  the  east,  south,  and  west,  I  am  re- 
solved, if  it  please  God,  to  investigate  those  of  the  north. 
And  thus,  as  I  do  not  see  that  I  am  fit  for  any  other  pursuit, 
to  spend  in  this  praiseworthy  exercise  the  remainder  of  my 
fleeting  days. 




The  same  desire  to  behold  the  various  kingdoms  of  the 
world  which  has  urged  on  others,  excited  me  also  to  a  similar 
enterprise ;  and  inasmuch  as  all  countries  have  been  very 
much  laid  open  by  our  people,  I  deliberated  in  my  own 
mind  that  I  would  see  those  which  had  been  the  least 
frequented  by  the  Venetians.  Wherefore  spreading  our  sails 
to  a  favourable  wind,  and  having  implored  the  Divine  aid,  we 
committed  ourselves  to  the  sea.  When  we  came  to  Alexandria, 
a  city  of  Egypt,  I,  longing  for  novelty  (as  a  thirsty  man  longs 
for  fresh  water)  departed  from  these  places  as  being  well 
known  to  all,  and,  entering  the  Nile,  arrived  at  Cairo. 


On  my  arrival  in  Cairo  I,  who  had  been  previously  much 
astonished  at  the  account  of  its  size,  came  to  the  conclusion 
that  it  was  not  so  large  as  it  had  been  reported  to  be.  But 
its  size  in  circumference  is  about  equal  to  that  of  Rome.  It 
is  true,  however,  that  it  contains  very  many  more  habita- 
tions than  there  are  in  Rome,  and  that  the  population  is 
larger.  The  mistake  which  many  have  made  is  this,  that 
there  are  several  hamlets  outside  the  walls  of  Cairo  which 
some  believed  to  be  within  the  circuit  of  Cairo  itself;  this, 

b  THE    TRAVELS    OF 

however,  cannot  be  the  case,  for  they  are  distant  some  two 
or  three  miles,  and  are  distinct  villages.1  I  shall  not  enter 
into  any  long  account  of  their  faith  and  manners,  because 
everyone  knows  that  they  are  inhabited  by  Moors2  and 
Mamelukes.  The  lord  over  them  is  the  Grand  Sultan,3  who 
is  served  by  the  Mamelukes,  and  the  Mamelukes  are  lords 
over  the  Moors. 


I  say  nothing  about  the  riches  and  beauty  of  the  afore- 
said Cairo  and  of  the  pride  of  the  Mamelukes,  because  they 
are  well  known  to  all  our  countrymen.  I  sailed  thence  into 
Syria  ;  and  first  to  Baruti,  the  distance  from  the  one  place  to 
the  other  by  sea  is  500  miles.  In  that  Baruti  I  remained 
several  days.  It  is  a  country  thickly  inhabited  by  the 
Moors,  and  is  well  supplied  with  everything.  The  sea 
breaks  against  the  walls,  and  you  must  know  that  the  dis- 
trict is  not  entirely  surrounded  by  walls,  but  only  in  some 
parts,  that  is  to  say,  towards  the  west  and  towards  the  sea.5 

1  Misr  el-  'Ateekah  or  Old  Misr,  corrupted  by  Europeans  into  "  Old 
Cairo,"  and  the  large  suburb  of  Boolak,  are  probably  the  "  distinct  vil- 
lages" indicated. 

'2  The  author  frecpiently  uses  this  term  as  laxly  as  we  do  that  of 
"  Arabs,"  and  sometimes  as  synonymous  with  "  Mussulmans." 

3  As  Varthema  commenced  his  travels  a.d.  1503,  Egypt  was  still 
under  the  rule  of  the  Borjeeh  or  Circassian  Mamluks,  and  the  "  Grand 
Sultan"  of  the  text  must  have  been  Sultan  el-Ghoree  of  that  dynasty. 
Contemporaneous  with  him  in  Egypt  was  the  Khalifa  el-Mustansik 
b'lllah  of  the  'Abbasieh  or  Abbaside  Caliphs,  who,  however,  had  long 
ceased  to  exercise  more  than  a  nominal  sovereignty  over  the  country. 

4  Beyroot  is  still  written  and  pronounced  as  above  by  the  Levantines 
and  Italian  residents  in  Syria. 

b  Until  very  recently  Beyroot  was  completely  enclosed  on  the  land 
side  by  a  wall,  whereas  there  is  only  a  small  extent  of  wall  "  towards  the 
sea."     Possibly,  at  the  period  of  our  author's  visit,  some  parts  of  the 


I  did  not  see  anything  there  worthy  to  be  recorded,  ex- 
cepting an  ancient  building,  which,  they  say,  was  inhabited 
by  the  daughter  of  the  king  when  the  dragon  wanted  to 
devour  her,  and  where  St.  George  killed  the  said  dragon.1 
This  ancient  building  is  all  in  ruins  ;  and  I  departed  thence, 
and  proceeded  in  the  direction  of  Tripoli  in  Syria,  which  is 
two  days'  journey  towards  the  east.  This  Tripoli  is  sub- 
ject to  the  Grand  Sultan,2  and  all  are  Muhammedans,  and  the 
said  city  abounds  in  everything.  And  I  departed  thence 
and  went  to  Aleppo,  which  is  eight  days'  journey  inland, 
which  said  Aleppo  is  a  very  beautiful  city,  and  is  under  the 
Grand  Sultan  of  Cairo,  and  is  the  mart  [scala]  of  Turkey 
and  Syria,  and  they  are  all  Muhammedans.  It  is  a  country 
of  very  great  traffic  in  merchandize,  and  particularly  with 
the  Persians  and  Azamini,3  who  come  as  far  as  there.     This 

former  had  been  levelled,  and  were  subsequently  restored  by  the  Ameer 
Fakhr  ed-Din,  who  repaired  and  strengthened  the  fortifications  in  the 
beginning  of  the  seventeenth  century  ;  and  he  may  have  mistaken  for  a 
wall  the  numerous  ancient  columns  which  form  the  foundation  of  the 
quay,  and  against  which  the  sea  frequently  beats  with  great  violence. 

1  The  legend  of  St.  George  and  the  Dragon  has  been  attached  to  this 
locality  since  the  Crusades,  and  the  remains  of  an  old  brick  building, 
situated  about  two  miles  from  Beyroot,  on  the  road  to  Jebail,  are  still 
pointed  out  as  occujjying  the  exact  site  of  the  renowned  encounter. 
Varthema  describes  it  as  it  is  now,  "  an  ancient  building  in  ruins," 
though  d'Arvieux,  in  16G0,  speaks  of  a  chapel  of  St.  George  in  this 
neighbourhood  which  had  been  converted  into  a  mosque,  and  Pococke 
repeats  the  same  in  1738.  If  a  Christian  chapel  ever  existed  here,  the 
Muhammedans,  in  converting  it  into  a  mosque,  would  not  scruple  to 
retain  the  original  dedication,  as  the  JVabi  Jergees  (the  Seer  George)  is 
regarded  as  an  orthodox  saint  by  all  Mussulmans. 

2  Of  Cairo,  of  course,  as  the  whole  of  Syria  at  the  time  was  subject  to 
the  Mamluk  sovereign  of  Egypt. 

3  This  is,  doubtless,  a  distorted  plural  form  of  ^Ajami,  a  Persian,  the 
Italian  initial  z  being  used  to  express  the^'  sound  of  the  Arabic,  just  as 
in  the  sequel  we  find  "  Zida,  cioe  porto  della  Meccha,"  where  Juddah 
( Jiddah)  is  obviously  indicated.  Also  "  xii  zomate"  for  xii  giornate. 
The  phrase  "  Persians  and  Azamini,"  moreover,  is  not  altogether  a 
pleonasm  ;  since  the  latter  term,  in  the  original,  has  a  wide  significa- 
tion, and  denotes  the  natives  generally  of  all  the  countries  comprehended 

8  THE    TRAVELS    OF 

is  the  route  which  is  taken  to  go  into  Turkey  and  Syria  by 
those  who  come  from  Azemia. 


And  I  departed  thence  and  went  towards  Damascus, 
which  is  distant  ten  short  days'  journey.  Midway  there  is 
a  city  which  is  called  Aman,  in  which  there  grows  a  vast 
quantity  of  cotton,  and  very  good  fruit.  And  near  to  Da- 
mascus, sixteen  miles  distant  from  it,  I  found  another  dis- 
trict called  Menin,  which  is  situated  on  the  summit  of  a 
mountain,  and  is  inhabited  by  Christians  of  the  Greek 
Church,  who  are  subjects  of  the  lord  of  Damascus.  In  this 
place  there  are  two  very  beautiful  churches,  which  are  said 
to  have  been  erected  by  Helena,  the  mother  of  Constantine. 
Very  excellent  fruits  grow  there,  and  most  especially  good 
grapes ;  and  here  also  there  are  very  beautiful  gardens  and 
fountains.  I  departed  thence,  and  went  to  the  most  noble 
city  of  Damascus. 


Truly  it  would  not  be  possible  to  describe  the  beauty  and 
the  excellence  of  this  Damascus,  in  which  I  resided  some 

under  the  Persian  empire.  Besides  which,  the  word  "  'Ajami"  conveys 
the  same  idea  among  the  people  of  the  East  as  "  Barbarian"  did  with 
the  ancient  Greeks,  and  "  Gentile"  among  the  Jews. 

1  The  modern  town  of  Hamah,  the  Hamath  of  Scripture,  the  Epi- 
phania  of  the  Greeks  and  Romans,  and  the  birthplace  of  Abu'1-Feda, 
the  eminent  Arabian  geographer  and  historian,  which  lies  midway  on 
the  caravan  route  between  Aleppo  and  Damascus,  is  obviously  indicated. 
It  is  somewhat  surprising  that  Varthema  does  not  mention  the  river 
Orontes,  which  bisects  the  town. 

8  Menin  is  situated  ten  miles  from  Helbon,  still  famous,  as  of  old,  for 
the  quality  of  its  grapes.     (See  Ezek.  xviii.  28.)     The  vine  is  the  chief 


months  in  order  to  learn  the  Moorish  language,  because 
this  city  is  entirely  inhabited  by  Moors  and  Mamelukes  and 
many  Greek  Christians.  Here  I  must  give  an  account  of 
the  government  of  the  lord  of  the  said  city,  which  lord  is 
subject  to  the  Great  Sultan  of  Cairo.  You  must  know  that 
in  the  said  city  of  Damascus  there  is  a  very  beautiful  and 
strong  castle,  which  is  said  to  have  been  built  by  a  Floren- 
tine Mameluke  at  his  own  expense,  he  being  lord  of  the 
said  city.  And,  moreover,  in  each  angle  of  the  said  castle, 
the  arms  of  Florence  are  sculptured  in  marble.  It  is  sur- 
rounded by  very  wide  fosses,  and  has  four  extremely  strong 
towers  and  drawbridges,  and  powerful  and  excellent  artil- 
lery are  constantly  mounted  there.1  Fifty  Mamelukes,  in 
the  service  of  the  Grand  Sultan,  are  constantly  quartered 
with  the  governor  of  the  castle.  This  Florentine  was  a 
Mameluke  of  the  Grand  Sultan  ;  and  it  is  reported  that  in 
his  time  the  Sultan  was  poisoned,  and  could  find  no  one 
who  could  relieve  him  of  the  said  poison,  when  it  pleased 
God  that  this  Florentine  should  cure  him.  For  this  service 
he  gave  him  the  said  city  of  Damascus,  and  thus  he  came 
to  build  the  castle.  Afterwards  he  died  in  Damascus  ;  and 
the  people  held  him  in  great  veneration  as  a  holy  man,  pos- 
sessing great  knowledge,  and  from  that  time  forward  the 

product  of  the  district,  which  abounds  also  in  fountain-streams  tribu- 
tary to  the  Barada.  One  of  these  streams  takes  its  rise  at  Menin. 
Christians  of  the  orthodox  Greek  rite  are  more  numerous  in  this  neigh- 
bourhood than  in  any  other  part  of  Syria. 

1  The  citadel  of  Damascus  is  an  extensive  quadrangular  fortress,  with 
towers,  surrounded  by  a  deep  fosse.  I  remember  noticing  several  sculp- 
tured escutcheons  built  into  the  exterior  wall  of  the  city  during  my  visit 
in  1835,  when  a  portion  of  the  same  was  being  demolished  by  Ibrahim 
Pasha  to  furnish  materials  for  a  military  hospital  ;  but  the  tradition  of 
the  Florentine  is  quite  new  to  me,  neither  do  I  find  it  alluded  to  by  any 
of  the  older  or  more  recent  travellers  in  Syria.  In  its  present  form  the 
castle  is  evidently  of  Saracenic  origin,  though  its  foundations  probably 
date  from  a  very  early  age.  There  is  nothing  improbable,  however,  in 
the  story  of  a  renegade  Christian  having  rebuilt  or  restored  it. 

10  THE   TRAVELS    OF 

castle  has  always  been  in  the  possession  of  the  Sultan. 
When  a  new  Sultan  succeeds  to  the  throne,  one  of  his  lords, 
who  are  called  Amirra,1  says  to  him  :  "  Lord,  I  have  been 
for  so  long  a  time  your  slave,  give  me  Damascus,  and  I  will 
give  you  one  hundred  thousand,  or  two  hundred  thousand, 
teraphim2  of  gold."  Then  the  lord  grants  him  this  favour. 
But  you  must  know,  that  if  in  the  course  of  two  years  the 
said  lord  does  not  send  him  25,000  teraphim,  he  seeks  to 
kill  him  by  force  of  arms,  or  in  some  other  manner  ;  but  if 
he  makes  him  the  said  present,  he  remains  in  the  govern- 
ment. The  said  lord  has  always  ten  or  twelve  lords  and 
barons  of  the  said  city  with  him,  and  when  the  Sultan  wants 
two  or  three  hundred  thousand  teraphim  from  the  lords  or 
merchants  of  the  said  city,  who  are  not  treated  with  justice, 
but  whom  they  vie  with  each  other  in  oppressing  by  rob- 
bery and  assassination  (for  the  Moors  live  under  the  Mame- 
lukes like  the  lamb  under  the  wolf),  the  said  Sultan  sends 
two  letters  to  the  governor  of  the  said  castle,  one  of  which 
simply  enjoins  him  to  bring  together  in  the  castle  such  lords 
or  merchants  as  he  may  think  proper.  And  when  they  are 
assembled,  the  second  letter  is  read,  the  object  of  which  is 
immediately  carried  out,  whether  for  good  or  for  evil.  And 
in  this  manner  the  said  lord  seeks  to  obtain  money.  Some- 
times the  said  lord  becomes  so  powerful  that  he  will  not  go 
into  the  castle  ;  whereat  many  barons  and  merchants,  feeling 
themselves  in  danger,  mount  their  horses  and  retire  towards 
Turkey.3  We  will  say  no  more  upon  this  subject,  except- 
ing that  the  men  of  the  guard  of  the  said  castle,  in  each  of 
the  four  great  towers,  are  always  on  the  watch.     They  make 

1  Ameer. 

2  In  the  Third  Chapter  concerning  Damascus,  and  in  some  editions, 
this  word  is  spelt  "  Saraphi"  and  also  "Sarahpi."  I  take  it  to  be  the 
Sherlf  or  Ashrafi,  an  old  Arabian  ducat. 

3  In  some  editions  it  is  the  Lords  and  Merchants  who  are  said  to 
refuse  to  go  into  the  castle  when  they  have  become  powerful,  and  this 
appears  V>  be  the  more  correct  reading. 


no  cry  during  the  night,  but  each  has  a  drum,  made  in  the 
shape  of  a  half-box,1  upon  which  they  beat  vigorously  with 
a  stick,  and  each  answers  the  other  with  these  said  drums. 
He  who  delays  answering  for  the  space  of  a  pater  noster,  is 
imprisoned  for  a  year. 


Now  that  we  have  seen  the  customs  of  the  Lord  of  Da- 
mascus, it  is  necessary  that  I  should  make  mention  of  some 
circumstances  relating  to  the  city,  which  is  extremely  popu- 
lous and  very  rich.  It  is  impossible  to  imagine  the  richness 
and  elegance  of  the  workmanship  there.  Here  you  have  a 
great  abundance  of  grain  and  of  meat,  and  the  most  prolific 
country  for  fruits  that  was  ever  seen,  and  especially  for 
fresh  grapes,  during  all  seasons.  I  will  mention  the  good 
and  the  bad  fruits  which  grow  there.  Pomegranates  and 
and  quinces,  good  :  almonds  and  large  olives,  extremely 
good.  The  most  beautiful  white  and  red  roses  that  were 
ever  seen.  There  are  also  good  apples  and  pears  and 
peaches,  but  with  a  very  bad  taste,  the  reason  of  which  is 
that  Damascus  abounds  much  in  water.2  A  stream  runs 
through  the  city,  and  the  greater  number  of  the  houses  have 
very  beautiful  fountains  of  mosaic  work.     The  houses  are 

1  The  buz  or  small  tall,  still  generally  used  by  the  Musahhirs,  who 
traverse  the  streets  during  the  Ramadhan,  to  announce  the  hour  of  the 
Sahoor,  or  last  meal  of  the  early  dawn. 

2  It  is  rather  surprising  that  no  mention  is  made  of  oranges  and  apri- 
cots, the  former  being  very  plentiful,  and  the  latter  by  far  the  most 
abundant  produce  of  the  orchards  round  Damascus,  and  one  of  its  chief 
articles  of  export ;  but  as  Varthema  left  the  city  early  in  April,  that 
fruit  was  not  in  season. 

Roses,  from  which  the  rich  perfume  of  the  \itar  is  extracted,  are  ex- 
tensively cultivated  in  a  part  of  the  great  plain  about  three  miles  from 
the  city. 

12  THE    TRAVELS    OF 

dirty  externally,  but  within  they  are  very  beautiful,  adorned 
with  many  works  of  marble  and  porphyry. 

In  this  city  there  are  many  mosques.  One,  which  is  the 
principal,  is  as  large  as  St.  Peter's  at  Rome.  It  has  no  roof 
in  the  centre,  but  the  surrounding  parts  are  covered  in.  It 
is  reported  that  they  keep  there  the  body  of  St.  Zachariah 
the  prophet,  and  they  pay  him  very  great  honour.  In  the 
said  mosque  there  are  four  principal  doors  of  metal,  and 
within  there  are  many  fountains.  Again,  we  see  where  the 
canonica  stood,  which  belonged  formerly  to  the  Christians, 
in  which  canonica  there  are  many  ancient  works  in  mosaic.1 
Again,  I  saw  the  place  where  they  report  that  Christ  said 
to  St.  Paul,  "  Saule,  Saule,  cur  me  persequeris  ?"  which  is 
without  the  city,  about  a  mile  from  one  of  the  gates  thereof. 
They  bury  there  all  the  Christians  who  die  in  the  said  city. 
Again,  there  is  that  tower  in  the  wall  of  the  district  where 
(as  they  say)  St.  Paul  was  imprisoned.  The  Moors  have 
many  times  rebuilt  it,  but  in  the  morning  it  is  found  broken 
and  thrown  down,  as  the  angel  broke  it  when  he  drew  St.  Paul 
out  of  the  said  tower.  I  also  saw  the  house  where  (as  they 
say)  Cain  slew  Abel  his  brother,  which  is  a  mile  without 
the  city  in  the  opposite  direction,  on  the  side  of  a  hill  in  a 
large  deep  valley.2  We  will  now  turn  to  the  liberty  which 
the  said  Mamelukes  enjoy  in  the  said  city  of  Damascus. 

1  The"Masjid  Yahya"  or  "  Jamaa  Beni  Umeyya"  (the  Temple  of 
John  or  the  Mosque  of  the  Omruiades),  a  part  of  which  is  generally  sup- 
posed to  have  formed  a  Christian  church  dedicated  to  St.  John  the 
Baptist,  the  son  of  Zechariah.  This  is  still  regarded  as  the  adytum  or 
most  sacred  portion  of  the  building,  and  is  believed  by  Muhauiinedans 
to  contain  the  head  of  the  aforesaid  Apostle.  A  peristyle,  supported  on 
splendid  Corinthian  pillars,  surrounds  the  quadrangular  court,  in  which 
there  are  several  marble  fountains  for  religious  ablution.  Buckingham, 
like  Varthema,  speaks  of  the  mosque  as  having  been  a  church  dedicated 
to  St.  Zechariah. 

2  These  and  several  other  absurd  local  traditions,  such  as  the  house 
of  Ananias,  the  grave  of  the  martyr  George  who  assisted  St.  Paul  to 
escape  through  a  window  in  the  wall,  and  a  cleft  in  the  rock,  about  a 



The  Mamelukes  are  renegade  Christians,  who  have  been 
purchased  by  the  said  lord.  Certain  it  is  that  the  said 
Mamelukes  never  lose  any  time,  but  are  constantly  exercis- 
ing themselves  either  in  arms  or  in  letters,  in  order  that 
they  may  acquire  excellence.  And  you  must  know  that 
every  Mameluke,  great  or  little,  has  for  his  pay  six  saraphi 
per  month,  and  his  expenses  for  himself,  his  horse,  and  a 
family ;  and  they  have  as  much  more  when  they  are  en- 
gaged on  any  warlike  expedition.1  The  said  Mamelukes, 
when  they  go  about  the  city,  are  always  in  companies  of  two 
or  three,  as  it  would  be  a  great  disgrace  if  they  went  alone. 
If  they  accidentally  meet  two  or  three  ladies,  they  possess  this 
privilege,  or  if  they  do  not  possess  it  they  take  it :  they  go 
to  lay  in  wait  for  these  ladies  in  certain  places  like  great  inns, 
which  are  called  Chano,2  and  as  the  said  ladies  pass  before  the 

mile  from  the  city,  through  which  the  Apostle  evaded  his  pursuers,  are 
still  current  among  the  monks  and  Christians  at  Damascus. 

1  Browne's  account  of  the  Mamluks  in  Egypt  in  1722,  coincides  in 
the  main  with  the  foregoing  description.  "  These  military  slaves  are 
imported  from  Georgia,  Circassia,  and  Mingrelia.  A  few  have  been 
prisoners,  taken  from  the  Austrians  and  Russians,  who  have  exchanged 
their  religion  for  an  establishment. ..Particular  attention  is  paid  to  the 
education  of  these  slaves.  They  are  instructed  in  every  exercise  of 
agility  or  strength,  and  are  in  general  distinguished  by  the  grace  and 
beauty  of  their  persons... They  have  no  pay,  as  they  eat  at  the  table  in 
the  house  of  their  master... Any  military  officer  may  purchase  a  slave, 
who  becomes  ipso  facto  a  Mamluk.  After  a  proper  education,  the  candi- 
date thus  constituted  a  Mamluk,  receives  a  present  of  a  horse  and  arms 
from  his  master,  together  with  a  suit  of  clothes,  which  is  renewed  every 
year  in  the  month  of  Ramadhan."  Browne  was  assured  that  during 
the  eleven  years  preceding  his  visit,  sixteen  thousand  white  slaves,  of 
both  sexes,  were  imported  into  Egypt.  Travels  in  Africa,  Egypt,  Syria, 
etc.,  pp.  53-56,  76. 

"  Khans,  buildings  generally  designed  for  the  accommodation  of  mer- 
chants and  their  goods.  In  some  instances  the  principal  bazaars  are 
held  in  the  khans. 

14  THE    TRAVELS    OF 

door  each  Mameluke  takes  his  lady  by  the  hand,  draws  her  in, 
and  docs  what  he  will  with  her.  But  the  lady  resists  being 
known,  because  they  all  wear  the  face  covered,  so  that  they 
know  us,  but  we  do  not  know  them.  The  Mameluke  says 
to  her,  that  he  wishes  to  know  who  she  is,  and  she  replies  : 
"  Brother,  is  it  not  enough  that  you  do  with  me  what  you 
will,  without  desiring  to  know  who  I  am?"  and  she  entreats 
him  so  much  that  he  lets  her  go.  And  sometimes  they 
think  that  they  take  the  daughter  of  the  lord,  when  in  fact 
they  take  their  own  wives  ;  and  this  has  happened  while  I 
was  there.  These  ladies  go  very  well  clad  in  silk,  and 
over  it  they  wear  certain  white  garments  of  wool,  thin  and 
bright  like  silk,  and  they  all  wear  white  buskins  and  red  or 
purple  shoes,  and  many  jewels  around  their  heads,  and  in 
their  ears,  and  on  their  hands.  These  ladies  when  they  are 
married,  at  their  own  will  and  pleasure,  that  is,  when  they 
do  not  wish  to  remain  with  their  husbands  any  longer,  go  to 
the  cadi  of  their  faith  and  cause  themselves  to  be  talacare,1 
that  is,  to  be  separated  from  their  husband  ;  and  then  they 
take  another,  and  he  takes  another  wife.  Although  they 
say  that  the  Moors  have  five  or  six  wives,  I  for  my  part 
have  never  seen  any  who  had  more  than  two  or  three  at  the 
most.  These  Moors  for  the  greater  part  eat  in  the  streets, 
that  is,  where  the  clothes  are  sold ;  they  have  their  food 
cooked  and  eat  it  there,  and  there  are  very  many  horses, 
camels,  and  bufi'alos,  and  sheep  and  goats.  There  is  here 
an  abundance  of  good  fresh  cheese  ;  and  if  you  wish  to  pur- 
chase milk,  there  are  forty  or  fifty  goats,  which  go  every 
day  through  the  district,  and  which  have  ears  more  than  a 
span  in  length.  The  master  of  these  goats  takes  them  up 
into  your  chamber,  even  if  your  house  have  three  stories,  and 

1  An  Italianized  infinitive  of  the  Arabic  talak,  to  divorce.  Ac- 
cording to  Muhammedan  civil  law  a  woman  cannot  repudiate  her  hus- 
band against  his  will,  unless  it  be  for  some  grievous  fault  or  cruelty  on 
his  part,  and  even  in  that  case  a  formal  decision  of  the  Kadhi  is  neces- 
sary to  dissolve  the  union. 


there  in  your  presence  he  milks  as  much  as  you  please  into 
a  handsome  tin  vessel.1  And  there  are  many  milch  goats. 
Here,  again,  is  sold  a  great  quantity  of  truffles :  sometimes 
twenty-five  or  thirty  camels  arrive  laden  with  them,  and  in 
three  or  four  days  they  are  sold.  They  come  from  the 
mountains  of  Armenia  and  Turkey.2  The  said  Moors  go 
clothed  in  certain  long  and  wide  garments,  without  girdles, 
made  of  silk  or  cloth,  and  the  greater  number  wear  breeches 
of  wool  and  white  shoes.  "When  a  Moor  meets  a  Mameluke, 
although  he  may  be  the  principal  merchant  of  the  place,  he 
is  obliged  to  do  honour  and  give  place  to  the  Mameluke, 
and  if  he  do  not  so  he  is  bastinadoed.  The  Christians  have 
there  many  warehouses,  which  contain  cloths,  and  silk  and 
satin,  velvets,  and  brass,  and  all  merchandize  that  is  re- 
quired ;  but  they  are  ill  treated.3 

1  The  long-eared  goats  of  Damascus  are  correctly  described,  and  the 
custom  of  hawking  them  about  the  streets  still  prevails. 

2  Truffles  (Arab.  Kama)  are  found  in  large  quantities,  at  certain 
seasons  of  the  year,  along  the  banks  of  the  Euphrates  and  Tigris,  and 
are  transported  by  the  Bedawin  long  distances.  The  price  at  Mosul 
and  Baghdad  varies  from  one  to  six  shillings  the  'okkah  of  four 

3  Until  within  the  last  few  years  Varthema's  Moors  or  Mussulmans  at 
Damascus  were  quite  as  overbearing  in  their  conduct  towards  the 
Christians  as  the  Mamluks  were  in  his  time.  As  late  as  1835  a  haughty 
Seyyed  insisted  on  my  descending  from  the  pavement  into  the  street 
while  he  passed,  and  he  literally  foamed  at  the  mouth  with  rage  because 
I  declined  obeying  him. 

16  THE    TRAVELS    OF 



The  matters  relating  to  Damascus  having  been  here 
described  perhaps  more  diffusely  than  was  necessary,  oppor- 
tunity invites  me  to  resume  my  journey.  In  1503,  on  the 
8th  day  of  April,  the  caravan  being  set  in  order  to  go  to 
Mecca,  and  I  being  desirous  of  beholding  various  scenes  and 
not  knowing  how  to  set  about  it,  formed  a  great  friendship 
with  the  captain  of  the  said  Mamelukes  of  the  caravan,  who 
was  a  Christian  renegade,  so  that  he  clothed  me  like  a 
Mameluke  and  gave  me  a  good  horse,  and  placed  me  in  com- 
pany with  the  other  Mamelukes,  and  this  was  accomplished 
by  means  of  the  money  and  other  things  which  I  gave  him  ; 
and  in  this  manner  we  set  ourselves  on  the  way,  and  travelled 
three  days  to  a  place  which  is  called  Mezeribe,1  and  there  we 
remained  three  days,  in  order  that  the  merchants  might 
provide  themselves,  by  purchase,  with  as  many  horses  as  they 
required.      In  this  Mezeribe  there  is  a  lord  who  is  named 

1  El-Mczarib,  where,  according  to  Burckhardt,  the  pilgrim  caravan 
to  Mcccah  generally  remains  encamped  for  ten  days  to  collect  stragglers, 
obtain  supplies,  and  pay  the  accustomed  tribute  to  the  different  Arab 
tribes  for  tho  passage  of  the  caravan  through  the  desert.  Travels  in 
Syria,  pp.  240-242. 


Zambei,1  and  he  is  lord  of  trie  country,  that  is  to  say,  of  the 
Arabians  ;  which  Zambei  has  three  brothers  and  four  male 
children,  and  he  has  40,000  horses,  and  for  his  court  he  has 
10,000  mares.  And  he  has  here  800,000  camels,  for  his 
pasture-ground  extends  two  days'  journey.  And  this  lord 
Zambei,  when  he  thinks  proper,  wages  war  with  the  Sultan 
of  Cairo,  and  the  Lord*  of  Damascus  and  of  Jerusalem,  and 
sometimes,  in  harvest  time,  when  they  think  that  he  is  a 
hundred  miles  distant,  he  plans  some  morning  a  great  in- 
cursion to  the  granaries  of  the  said  city,  and  finds  the  grain 
and  the  barley  nicely  packed  up  in  sacks,  and  carries  it  off. 
Sometimes  he  runs  a  whole  day  and  night  with  his  said 
mares  without  stopping,  and  when  they  have  arrived  at  the 
end  of  their  journey  they  give  them  camels'  milk  to  drink, 
because  it  is  very  refreshing.  Truly  it  appears  to  me  that 
they  do  not  run  but  that  they  fly  like  falcons  ;  for  I  have 
been  with  them,  and  you  must  know  that  they  ride,  for  the 
most  part,  without  saddles,  and  in  their  shirts,  excepting 
some  of  their  principal  men.  Their  arms  consist  of  a  lance 
of  Indian  cane  ten  or  twelve  cubits  in  length  with  a  piece  of 
iron  at  the  end,  and  when  they  go  on  any  expedition  they 
keep  as  close  together  as  starlings.  The  said  Arabians  are 
very  small  men,  and  are  of  a  dark  tawny  colour,  and  they 
have  a  feminine  voice,  and  long,  stiff,  and  black  hair.  And 
truly  these  Arabs  are  in  such  vast  numbers  that  they  cannot 
be  counted,  and  they  are  constantly  fighting  amongst  them- 
selves. They  inhabit  the  mountain  and  come  down  at  the 
time  when  the  caravan  passes  through  to  go  to  Mecca,  in 
order  to  lie  in  wait  at  the  passes  for  the  purpose  of  robbing 
the  said  caravan.     They  carry  their  wives,  children,  and  all 

1  Burckhardt  enables  me  to  identify  this  with  Ziiabi  or  Ez-Zaabi,  the 
patronymic  of  the  principal  Arab  family  in  this  district.  He  says:  "At 
three  hours  from  Mezarib  is  the  village  of  Ramtha,...the  sheikh  of  which 
is  generally  a  santon,  that  dignity  being  in  the  family  of  Ez-Zaabi, 
who  possess  there  a  mosque  of  the  same  name." — Ibid.  Appen- 
dix iii. 

18  THE    TRAVELS    OF 

their  furniture,  and  also  their  houses,  upon  camels,  which 
houses  are  like  the  tents  of  soldiers,  and  are  of  black  wool 
and  of  a  sad  appearance.1 

On  the  11th  of  April,2  the  said  caravan  departed  from 
Mezeribe ;  there  were  35,000  camels,  about  40,000  persons, 
and  we  were  sixty  Mamelukes  in  guard  of  the  said  caravan. 
One  third  of  the  Mamelukes  went  in  advance  of  the  caravan 
with  the  standard,  another  third  in  the  centre,  and  the  other 
third  marched  in  the  rear.  You  must  understand  that  we 
performed  our  journey  in  this  wise.  From  Damascus  to 
Mecca  is  a  journey  of  forty  days  and  forty  nights  :  thus,  we 
set  out  from  Mezeribe  in  the  morning  and  travelled  for 
twenty  hours.  At  that  point  certain  signals  made  by  the 
captain  were  passed  from  band  to  band  that  the  whole 
company  should  stop  where  they  then  found  themselves, 
and  they  pass  twenty-four  hours  in  unloading,  and  feeding 
themselves  and  their  camels.  And  then  they  make  signals, 
and  the  camels  are  immediately  laden  again.  And  you  must 
know  that  they  give  the  said  camels  for  food  only  five  loaves 
of  barley-meal,  uncooked,  and  each  of  about  the  size  of  a 
pomegranate,3  and  then  they  mount  their  horses  and  journey 
all  night  and  all  the  following  day  for  the  said  twenty-two 
hours,  and  then  for  twenty-four  hours  do  as  before.  And 
every  eight  days  they  find  water,  that  is,  by  digging  in  the 
earth  or  sand ;  also,  certain  wells  and  cisterns  are  found,  and 
at  the  end  of  the  eight  days  they  stop  for  one  or  two  days, 
because   the   said   camels  carry  as  great  a  burthen  as  two 

1  A  most  graphic  and  correct  description  of  the  predatory  and  warlike 
customs  of  the  desert  Arabs,  and  of  their  physical  and  social  peculiari- 
ties.    The  picture  is  throughout  true  to  the  life  at  the  present  day. 

2  This  is  either  an  error,  or  Varthema  meant  thereby  to  reckon  his 
travelling  days  only  ;  otherwise,  as  he  left  Damascus  on  the  8th  of  the 
month,  was  three  days  in  reaching  Mezarib,  and  remained  there  another 
three  days,  the  date  should  be  April  14th. 

3  The  meal  or  flour  is  made  into  a  paste  and  then  formed  into  a  ball. 
Cameleers  throughout  the  East,  especially  on  long  journeys,  adopt  the 
same  mode  of  baiting  their  animals. 


mules,  and  they  only  give  the  poor  animals  drink  once  in 
every  three  days.  When  we  halted  at  the  said  waters  we 
always  had  to  fight  with  a  vast  number  of  Arabs,  but  they 
never  killed  more  than  one  man  and  one  lady,  for  such  is  the 
baseness  of  their  minds,  that  we  sixty  Mamelukes  were 
sufficient  defence  against  forty  or  fifty  thousand  Arabs ; 
for  pagans,  there  are  no  better  people  with  arms  in  their 
hands  than  are  the  Mamelukes.  You  must  know  that  I  had 
excellent  experiences  of  these  Mamelukes  during  the  journey. 
Amongst  others,  I  saw  a  Mameluke  take  one  of  his  slaves 
and  place  a  pomegranate  on  his  head,  and  make  him  stand 
twelve  or  fifteen  paces  distant  from  him,  and  at  the  second 
trial  strike  off  the  pomegranate  by  a  shot  from  a  bow.  Again, 
I  saw  another  Mameluke,  running  at  full  gallop,  take  off  his 
saddle  and  place  it  upon  his  head,  and  afterwards  return  it 
to  its  original  place  without  falling,  and  always  at  full  gallop. 
Their  saddles  are  made  according  to  our  usage. 


And  when  we  had  travelled  twelve  days  we  found  the 
valley  of  Sodom  and  Gomorrah.  Verily  the  Scriptures  do 
not  lie,  for  one  sees  how  they  were  destroyed  by  a  miracle 
of  God ;  and  I  say  that  there  are  three  cities  which  were  on 
the  top  of  three  mountains,  and  around  them  to  the  height 
of  three  or  four  cubits  is  still  seen  what  appears  to  be  blood, 
like  red  wax  mixed  with  earth.  Of  a  truth,  I  believe, 
upon  what  I  have  seen,  that  they  were  a  wicked  people,  for 
all  around  the  entire  country  is  desert  and  barren.  The 
earth  produces  no  one  thing,  nor  water  ;  and  they  lived 
upon  manna  and  were  punished,  for  not  acknowledging  the 
benefits  they  received ;  and  by  a  miracle  everything  is  still 
seen  in  ruin.     Then  we  passed  that  valley,  which  was  at 

c  2 

20  THE    TRAVELS    OF 

least  twenty  miles,  and  there  died  there  from  thirst  thirty- 
three  persons,  and  many  were  buried  in  the  sand  who  were 
not  quite  dead,  and  they  left  only  their  faces  uncovered.1 
Afterwards  we  found  a  little  mountain,  near  which  was  a 
well,  whereat  we  were  well  pleased.  We  halted  upon  the 
said  mountain.  The  next  day,  early  in  the  morning,  there 
came  24,000  Arabs,  who  said  that  we  must  pay  for  their  water.2 
We  answered  that  wTe  could  not  pay,  for  the  water  was 
given  by  God.  They  began  to  fight  with  us,  saying  that 
we  had  taken  their  water.  We  fortified  ourselves,  and  made 
a  wall  of  our  camels,3  and  the  merchants  stood  within  the 

1  After  twelve  days'  journeying  our  traveller  must  have  passed  the 
valley  of  the  Dead  Sea  proper,  but  being  in  the  neighbourhood  it  was 
natural  that  he  should  refer  to  the  Scriptural  narrative  of  the  destruc- 
tion of  Sodom  and  the  other  cities  of  the  Plain.  Besides  which,  it  is 
now  ascertained  that  the  depression  about  the  Dead  Sea  is  but  a  section  of 
a  continuous  valley,  extending  between  Banias,  at  the  foot  of  Jebel  esh- 
Sheikh,  and  the  head  of  the  Gulf  of  'Akabah.  True,  Varthema's  route, 
if  he  followed  that  of  the  Hajj  at  the  present  day,  was  about  twenty  miles 
to  the  eastward  of  the  Wadi  'Araba  (the  name  which  the  valley  takes  to 
the  south  of  Petra)  ;  but  it  is  not  surprising  that  he  should  have  confounded 
therewith  a  dreary  and  difficult  pass  which  branches  off  from  the  cen- 
tral chain  of  mountains,  and  which  is  known  as  the  'Akabet  esh-Shami, 
for  with  that  I  am  disposed  to  identify  his  "  Valley  of  Sodom  and 
Gomorrah."  Burckhardt  gives  this  as  the  twelfth  day's  journey  of  the 
pilgrims  from  Damascus,  and  describes  it  as  follows  :  "  The  Hadj  route, 
as  far  as  Akabet  Esh-Shami,  is  a  complete  desert  on  both  sides.  The 
mountain  chain  continues  about  ten  hours  to  the  west  of  the  Hadj 
route...  Here  the  Hadj  descends  a  deep  chasm,  and  it  takes  half  an  hour 
to  reach  below...  The  mountain  consists  of  a  red  grey  sandstone,  which 
is  used  at  Damascus  for  whetstones."  [Was  it  this  colour  of  the  geolo- 
gical formation  which  Varthema's  vivid  or  pious  imagination  converted 
into  "  what  appeared  to  be  blood,  like  red  wax  mixed  with  earth"  1] — 
Travels  in  Syria,  Appendix  iii. 

2  The  caravan  was  now  in  Edom,  traversing  a  section  of  the  route 
taken  by  the  Israelites  when  they  turned  "northward"  to  "'pass  through 
the  coast  of  the  children  of  Esau,"  with  whom  they  were  commanded 
"  not  to  meddle,"  but  peaceably  "  to  pass  through  the  coast,"  and  to 
"  buy  meat  and  water  of  them  for  money."  (See  Deut.  ii.  3-6.)  Payment 
for  water  is  still  exacted  by  the  descendants  of  Esau  in  the  same  locality 
at  the  present  day. 

3  A  prevailing  custom  among  the  Bedawin  when  defending  themselves 


said  camels,  and  we  were  constantly  skirmishing,  so  that  they 
kept  us  besieged  two  days  and  two  nights,  and  things  came 
at  last  to  that  state,  that  neither  we  nor  they  had  any  more 
water  to  drink.  They  had  completely  surrounded  the 
mountain  with  people,  saying  that  they  would  break  through 
the  caravan.  Not  being  able  to  continue  the  fighting,  our 
captain  consulted  with  the  Moorish  merchants  and  we  gave 
them  (the  Arabs)  1200  ducats  of  gold.  They  took  the  money, 
and  then  said  that  10,000  ducats  of  gold  would  not  pay  for 
their  water,  and  we  knew  that  they  wanted  something  else 
besides  money.  So  our  prudent  captain  arranged  with  the 
caravan,  that  all  those  men  who  were  capable  of  bearing  arms 
should  not  ride  on  the  camels,  aud  that  each  should  prepare 
his  arms.  The  morning  having  come,  we  put  forward  all 
the  caravan,  and  we  Mamelukes  remained  behind.  We 
were  in  all  three  hundred  persons,  and  we  soon  began 
to  fight.  One  man  and  one  lady  were  killed  by  bows  on 
our  side,  and  they  did  us  no  further  harm.  \Ve  killed  of 
them  1600  persons.1  Nor  is  it  to  be  wondered  at  that  we 
killed  so  many  of  them  :  the  cause  was,  that  they  were  all 
naked  and  on  horseback,  without  saddles,  so  that  they  had  a 
difficulty  in  turning  on  their  way. 

against  an  attack.  The  right  fore-leg  is  first  bent  at  the  knee,  and  firmly 
secured  with  the  leading  halter  so  as  effectually  to  prevent  the  camel 
rising.  The  animals  are  then  made  to  lie  down  in  close  contact,  their 
mass  serving  as  a  rampart,  the  space  between  the  shoulders  as  embra- 
sures, and  their  bodies  as  rests  for  the  matchlocks  of  the  defenders. 

1  Probably  an  exaggeration,  though  Strabo  records  a  battle  between 
the  Roman  army  under  iElius  Gallus  and  the  Arabians  of  the  southern 
part  of  the  Hijaz,  with  a  loss  of  two  only  of  the  former  and  ten  thousand 
of  the  latter.     Lib.  xvi. 

22  THE    TRAVELS    OF 


At  the  end  of  eight  days  we  found  a  mountain  which  ap- 
peared to  be  ten  or  twelve  miles  in  circumference,  in  which 

1  This  is  a  most  interesting  subject,  and  deserves  more  than  a  cursory 
notice.  Our  traveller  describes  the  locality  as  being  three  days' journey 
from  El-Medinah,  which  brings  it  to  about  "  Hedye,"  given  in  Burck- 
hardt's  Itinerary  as  the  twenty-fourth  halt  of  the  modern  Hajj  from 
Damascus,  and  four  hours  distant  from  Khaibar,  "whither  the  people  of 
the  caravan  often  go  to  buy  provisions."     Travels  in  Syria,  Appendix  iii. 

Mons.  Caussin  de  Perceval  has  collected  together  the  various  notices 
found  in  the  principal  Arabian  historians  respecting  the  first  Jewish 
colony  in  the  Hijaz,  from  which  it  will  be  seen  that  Khaibar  was  one  of 
their  most  important  settlements.  According  to  Ibn  Khaldoon,  the  ori- 
ginal immigrants  formed  part  of  an  army  sent  by  Joshua  against  the  Ama- 
lica  (Amalekites),  which,  after  destroying  that  people,  took  possession  of 
their  country,  and  occupied  Yathrib  (El-Medinah),  Khaibar,  and  the  sur- 
rounding places. 

Others,  and  among  them  the  author  of  the  Aghdni,  make  the  original 
colonists  to  have  consisted  of  a  large  body  of  troops  which  Moses,  on 
reaching  Syria,  had  despatched  against  the  Amalica,  with  order  to  exter- 
minate them  utterly;  but  that  having  spared  the  young  son  of  the  Ainalek- 
ite  king,  Arcam,  the  Israelites  refused  to  receive  them  on  their  return 
from  the  expedition.  Whereupon  they  retraced  their  way  back  to  the 
Hijaz,  and  finally  settled  at  Yathrib,  Khaibar,  and  the  adjoining 

Caussin  de  Perceval,  in  noticing  the  striking  resemblance  which  this 
narrative  bears  to  the  Scriptural  account  of  the  Amalekite  king  Agag, 
whose  life  was  spared  by  the  soldiers  of  Saul  against  the  positive  com- 
mand of  the  prophet  Samuel,  remarks  that  if  the  Arab  tradition  is 
founded  on  any  historical  truth  connecting  the  fact  of  the  disobedience 
of  the  Israelitish  troops  with  the  establishment  of  a  Jewish  colony  in 
the  Hijaz,  it  would  serve  to  fix  the  date  of  that  emigration  to  the  time 
of  Saul,  or  four  centuries  after  Moses. 

Other  Arabian  historians  assert  that  the  emigration  did  not  take  place 
till  after  the  fall  of  Zedekiah,  the  last  king  of  Judah,  and  the  devasta- 
tion of  Judea  by  the  armies  of  Nebuchadnezzar,  when  many  Jewish 
families  sought  refuge  in  the  Hijaz.  Personal  experience  enables  me  to 
add  that  such  also  is  the  prevailing  tradition  among  the  Jews  of  Yemen 
of  their  original  settlement  in  that  country. 

From  these  various  accounts  it  is  natural  to  infer  that  the  Jewish 

LUBOV1CO    Bl    VARTHEMA.  23 

mountain  there  dwell  four  or  five  thousand  Jews,  who  go 
naked,  and  are  in  height  five  or  six  spans,  and  have  a  fe- 

colony  in  the  Hijaz  was  formed  by  several  successive  immigrations  in 
very  remote  times,  and  that  it  received  new  accessions  by  similar  im- 
migrations of  a  more  recent  date,  one  of  which,  specially  noticed  by  the 
author  of  the  Aghani,  may  be  referred  either  to  the  period  of  the  re- 
duction of  Judea  into  a  Roman  province  by  Pompey,  B.C.  6-1,  to  the  de- 
struction of  Jerusalem  by  Titus,  a.d.  70,  or  to  the  cruel  persecution  of 
the  Jews  under  Adrian,  a.d.  136.  It  is,  indeed,  highly  probable  that  on 
each  of  those  occasions  many  fugitive  Jews  from  Judea  sought  an 
asylum  with  their  co-religionists  in  the  Hijaz. 

The  existence  of  a  considerable  Jewish  population  in  the  district  in- 
dicated by  Varthema  at  the  period  of  Muhammed  is  a  well-authenticated 
historical  fact.  His  cursory  description  of  the  particular  locality  is 
equally  correct  ;  and  the  enmity  of  the  resident  Jews  towards  the 
Muhammedans  appears  to  have  been  inherited  by  them  through  many 
generations.  Referring  to  that  period,  Caussin  de  Perceval  says:  "The 
Jewish  race  was  still  powerful.  They  possessed,  between  three  or  four 
days'  journey  from  Medinah,  a  fertile  territory,  abounding  in  grain  and 
date-trees,  and  protected  by  several  forts,  the  principal  of  which,  called 
El-Cammoos,  was  situated  on  a  mountain  difficult  of  access.  The  dis- 
trict occupied  by  these  strongholds  was  denominated  Khaibar,  a  word 
which  Arabian  authors  take  to  signify  a  castle.  [More  probably  a  con- 
federation or  colony,  from  the  Hebrew  *")2n  (khabar)  to  be  confederated]. 
Its  population  was  composed  of  different  families,  which  had  been  esta- 
blished in  the  country  from  time  immemorial.  The  Jews  of  Khaibar 
had  manifested  an  active  and  implacable  hatred  towards  the  Prophet 
and  his  followers.  United  by  an  old  alliance  with  their  neighbours  the 
Bedawin  descendants  of  Ghatafan,  they  laboured  incessantly  to  stir  up 
the  hostility  of  that  and  other  adjacent  tribes  against  Muhammed." 

In  the  month  of  Muharram  of  the  seventh  year  of  the  Hijrah  (12th 
April — 12th  May,  a.d.  628)  Muhammed  led  an  army  in  person  against 
Khaibar,  and  after  a  severe  conflict,  which  lasted  for  several  days,  suc- 
ceeded in  capturing  all  the  forts  in  that  and  the  surrounding  districts, 
and  in  reducing  the  Jews  to  abject  submission.  At  first,  they  merely 
begged  that  their  lives  might  be  spared,  promising  to  quit  the  country 
forthwith ;  but  they  were  subsequently  permitted  to  remain  as  simple 
farmers  of  the  soil,  binding  themselves  to  give  half  of  the  produce  to  its 
new  Mussulman  proprietors.  It  was  expressly  stipulated,  however,  that 
their  future  expulsion  should  depend  on  the  will  of  the  Prophet. 

Though  it  is  generally  believed  that  'Omar,  on  his  succession  to  the 
Khalifate  a.d.  634,  availed  himself  of  this  proviso  to  banish  the  Jews 
from  the  country,  in  order  to  execute  an  injunction  said  to  have  been 

«4  THE    TRAVELS    OF 

minine  voice,  and  are  more  black  than  any  other  colour. 
They  live  entirely  upon  the  flesh  of  sheep,  and  eat  nothing 
else.  They  are  circumcised,  and  confess  that  they  are  Jews; 
and  if  they  can  get  a  Moor  into  their  hands,  they  skin  him 
alive.  At  the  foot  of  the  said  mountain  we  found  a  tank  of 
water,  which  is  water  that  falls  in  the  rainy  season.  We 
loaded  with  the  said  water  16,000  camels,  whereat  the  Jews 
were  ill-pleased  ;  and  they  went  about  that  mountain  like 
wild  goats,  and  on  no  account  would  they  descend  into  the 
plain,  because  they  are  mortal  enemies  of  the  Moors.  At 
the  foot  of  the  mountain,  by  the  said  water,  there  were  six 
or  eight  feet  of  beautiful  thornbushes,  in  which  we  found 
two  turtledoves,  which  circumstance  appeared  to  us  like  a 
miracle,   inasmuch    as    we  had   travelled  fifteen  days  and 

given  by  Muhammed  when  dying,  that  two  religions  were  not  to  be 
tolerated  in  Arabia  ;  nevertheless,  it  is  tolerably  certain  that  they  con- 
tinued to  occupy  the  neighbourhood  of  Khaibar  in  considerable  numbers 
up  to  a  very  recent  period.  As  late  as  1762,  Niebuhr  was  informed  that 
that  district  was  still  inhabited  by  several  independent  Jewish  tribes,  who 
had  sheikhs  of  their  own  like  other  Arabs.  Burckhardt  mentions  the 
old  colony  of  the  Jews  at  Khaibar,  but  says  that  it  had  disappeared, 
though  there  still  existed  an  unfounded  belief  at  Meccah  and  Juddah 
that  their  descendants  still  existed  there,  strictly  performing  the  duties 
of  their  religion.  They  seem, indeed,  to  have  become  extinct  as  a  separate 
race,  for  Burton  was  assured  that  there  is  not  a  single  Jewish  family  now  in 
Khaibar,  adding  :  "it  is,  indeed,  the  popular  boast  in  El-IIejaz  that,  with 
the  exception  of  Jeddah  (and  perhaps  Yembo),  where  the  Prophet  never 
set  his  foot,  there  is  not  a  town  in  the  country  harbouring  an  infidel.  This 
lias  now  become  a  point  of  fanatic  honour ;  but  if  history  may  be  trusted, 
it  has  become  so  only  lately."  Pilgrimage  to  Meccah  and  Bl-Medinah, 
vol.  ii.  p.  118,  note.  See  also  Caussin  de  Perceval,  Histoire  des  Arabes 
avant  V Islamisme,  etc.,  vols.  ii.  641-644;  iii.  193-201,  444.  Niebuhk, 
Description  de  VArabie,  pp.  326,  327. 

Varthema  evidently  miscalculated  the  effects  of  distance  in  diminish- 
ing objects ;  hence,  I  presume,  his  fabulous  measurement  of  the  Jews  at 
five  or  six  spans  in  height,  and  his  failing  to  see  the  scanty  cloth  round 
their  loins,  which  still  constitutes  the  only  garment  of  the  common 
Bedawin  of  the  Hijaz.  As  to  complexion,  if  those  seen  by  our  traveller 
were  like  the  generality  of  the  Jews  in  Yemen,  he  aptly  describes  it  as 
"  more  black  than  any  other  colour."  In  that  respect  they  are  not  to  be 
distinguished  from  the  Arab  Bedawin. 


nights  and  had  not  met  with  a  single  animal  or  bird.  The 
next  day  we  resumed  our  journey,  and  in  two  days  time 
arrived  at  a  city  which  is  called  Medinathalnabi.1  Near 
that  city,  at  a  distance  of  four  miles,  we  found  a  well,  by 
which  the  caravan  halted  for  a  day,  and  at  this  well  each 
person  washed  himself,  and  put  on  clean  linen  to  go  into 
the  said  city,  which  contains  about  three  hundred  hearths, 
and  is  surrounded  by  walls  made  of  earth.2  The  houses 
within  are  constructed  with  stone  walls.  The  country 
around  the  said  city  lies  under  the  curse  of  God,  for  the 
land  is  barren,  with  the  exception  that  about  two  stones' 
cast,  outside  the  city,  there  are  about  fifty  or  sixty  feet  of 
palmtrees  in  a  garden,3  at  the  end  of  which  there  is  a  certain 
conduit  of  water,  which  descends  at  least  twenty-four  steps, 
of  which  water  the  caravan  takes  possession  when  it  arrives 
there.4  Now,  some  who  say  that  the  body  of  Mahomet  is 
suspended  in  the  air  at  Mecca  must  be  reproved ;  I  say  that 
it  is  not  true.  I  have  seen  his  sepulchre  in  this  city,  Medi- 
nathalnabi, in  which  we  remained  three  days,  and  wished 
to  see  everything.5  The  first  day  we  went  into  the  city,  at 
the  entrance  by  the  door  of  their  mosque,  and  each  of  us, 
small  or  great,  was  obliged  to  be  accompanied  by  some  per- 

1  Medinat  en-Nabi,  the  City  of  the  Prophet. 

2  These  earthen  fortifications,  according  to  Burton,  were  built  by 
order  of  Kasim  el  Daulat  el  Ghori.  The  wall  is  now  of  stone,  "  well- 
built  of  granite  and  lava  blocks,  in  regular  layers,  cemented  with  lime." 

3  "This  alludes  to  the  gardens  of  Kuba.  The  number  of  date-trees  is 
now  greatly  increased."     Bukton,  ut  supra. 

4  Burckhardt,  in  his  plan  of  El-Medinah,  marks  these  "  steps  leading 
down  to  the  canal  in  different  parts  of  the  town."  Burton  supposes  the 
water  to  come  from  a  spring  in  the  date-groves  of  Kuba.  "  It  flows 
down  a  subterranean  canal,  about  thirty  feet  below  the  surface.  In 
some  places  the  water  is  exposed  to  the  air,  and  steps  lead  to  it  for  the 
convenience  of  the  inhabitants." 

3  This  absurd  story,  so  long  current  in  Christendom,  but  utterly  un- 
known to  Mussulmans,  is  supposed  by  Niebuhr  to  have  originated  from 
the  position,  one  above  the  other,  which  the  three  enshrined  tombs  are 
represented  as  occupying  in  the  rude  drawings  of  the  mosque  made  by 
native  artists. 

26  THE    TRAVELS    OF 

son,1  who  took  us  by  the  hand,  and  led   us  where  Mahomet 
was  buried. 


The  mosque  is  made  square  in  this  manner  :  being  about 
one  hundred  paces  long,  and  eighty  wide,  and  it  has  around 
it  two  doors  on  three  sides,  and  the  roof  made  arched,  and 
there  are  more  than  400  columns  made  of  burnt  stone,  all 
whitened,  and  there  are  about  3,000  lighted  lamps  burning 
on  one  side  of  the  arches.2  On  the  right  hand,  at  the  head 
of  the  mosque,  there  is  a  square  tower,  about  five  paces 
on  every  side,  which  tower  has  a  cloth  of  silk  around 
it.  At  the  distance  of  two  paces  from  the  said  tower 
there  is  a  very  beautiful  grating  of  metal,  where  per- 
sons stand  to  see  the  said  tower ;  and  at  one  side,  on 
the  left,  there  is  a  little  door  which  leads  you  to  the  said 
tower,  and  in  the  said  tower  there  is  another  little  door,  and 
by  one  of  the  doors  there  are  about  twenty  books,  and  on  the 
other  side  there  are  twenty-five  books,  which  are  those  of  Ma- 
homet and  of  his  Companions,  which  books  declare  his  life 
and  the  commandments  of  his  sect.3    Within  the  said  door 

1  A  guide,  called  Dal'll  or  Muzawwir. 

2  Burckkardt  makes  the  dimensions  165  paces  in  length  by  130  in 
breadth.  Burton  calls  it  "a  parallelogram  about  420  feet  in  length  by 
340  broad."  The  former  says  :  "It  forms  an  open  square,  surrounded  on 
all  sides  by  covered  colonnades,  with  a  small  building  in  the  centre  of 

the  square The  columns  are  of  stone  ;  but  being  plastered  white  it 

is  difficult  to  decide  what  species The  roof  of  the  colonnade  consists 

of  a  number  of  small  domes."  The  latter  styles  it  "  a  hypsethral  build- 
ing with  a  spacious  central  area,  called  El  Sahn,  El  Ilosh,  El  Haswah, 
or  El  Ramlah,  surrounded  by  a  peristyle  with  numerous  rows  of  pillars, 
like  the  colonnades  of  an  Italian  monastery.  Their  arcades,  or  porticoes, 
are  llat-ceilinged,  domed  above  with  the  small  '  Media  Naranja,'  or  half- 
orange  cupola  of  Spain." 

3  "  Near  the  south-east  corner  stands  the  famous  tomb,  so  detached 


there  is  a  sepulchre,  that  is,  a  pit  under  ground,  wherein 
was  placed  Mahomet,  also  Haly,  and  Babacher,  and  Oth- 
nian,  and  Aumar,  and  Fatoma.  Mahomet  was  captain,  and 
he  was  an  Arab.  Haly  was  son-in-law  of  Mahomet,  that  is, 
he  was  the  husband  of  Fatoma,  who  was  the  daughter  of 
Mahomet.1    Babacher  was  he  of  whom  we  should  say  that 

from  the  walls  of  the  inosque  as  to  leave  between  it  and  the  south  wall 
a  space  of  about  twenty-five  feet,  and  fifteen  feet  between  it  and  the 
east  wall.  The  enclosure  [Varthema's  '  tower']  forms  an  irregular 
square  of  about  twenty  paces,  in  the  midst  of  the  colonnade,  several  of 
its  pillars  being  included  within  it.  It  is  an  iron  railing  painted  green 
...the  railing  is  of  good  workmanship,  in  imitation  of  filagree,  and  is 
interwoven  with  open-work  inscriptions  of  yellow  bronze...  What  appears 
of  the  interior  is  merely  a  curtain  carried  round  on  all  sides,  resembling 
a  bed,  which  is  of  the  same  height  as  the  railing,  and  fills  nearly  the 
whole  space. ..This  veil  is  a  rich  silk  brocade  of  various  colours,  inter- 
woven with  silver  flowers  and  arabesques.  A  band  of  inscriptions  in 
gold  characters  runs  across  the  middle." — Bukckhardt. 

"  The  Hujrah,  or  Chamber,  as  it  is  called,  from  the  circumstance  of  its 
having  been  Ayisha's  room,  is  an  irregular  square  of  from  fifty  to  fifty- 
five  feet  in  the  south-east  corner  of  the  building,  and  separated  on  all 
sides  from  the  walls  of  the  mosque  by  a  passage  about  twenty-six  feet 
broad  on  the  south  side,  and  twenty  on  the  eastern... Inside  there  are, 
or  are  supposed  to  be,  three  tombs  facing  the  south,  surrounded  by  stone 
walls,  or,  as  others  say,  by  strong  planking.  Whatever  this  material  may 
be,  it  is  hung  outside  with  a  curtain,  somewhat  like  a  large  four-post  bed. 
The  outer  railing  is  separated  by  a  dark  narrow  passage  from  the  inner 
one,  which  it  surrounds,  and  is  of  iron  filagree,  painted  of  a  vivid  grass 
green,  whilst  carefully  inserted  in  the  verdure,  and  doubly  bright  by 
contrast,  is  the  gilt  or  burnished  brass  work  forming  the  long  and  grace- 
ful letters  of  the  Suls  character,  and  disposed  into  the  Moslem  creed, 
the  profession  of  unity,  and  similar  religious  sentences.  This  fence  has 
four  gates. ..they  are  constantly  kept  closed,  except  the  fourth." — 

The  foregoing  extracts  prove  the  remarkable  correctness  of  Varthema's 
brief  description  of  this  mosque.  Neither  of  the  two  enterprising  tra- 
vellers, however,  throws  any  light  on  the  books  mentioned  by  him  as  ex- 
isting in  the  vicinity  of  the  Hujrah.  The  mosque  library,  according 
to  Burton,  is  now  kept  in  large  chests  near  the  Bab  el  Salam. 

1  Muhammed,  'Ali,  Abubekr,  'Othman,  'Omar,  and  Fatimah.  Here 
Varthema  is  in  error,  for  it  has  never  been  believed  by  Mussulmans 
that  either  'Ali  or  'Othman  was  buried  in  the  Prophet's  mosque. 

Burton  says  :  "  The  sepulchre  or  cenotaph  of  Fatimah  is  outside  the 

28  THE    TRAVELS    OF 

he  was  cardinal,  and  wanted  to  be  pope.1  Othman  was  one 
of  his  captains.  Aumar  was  another  of  his  captains.  And 
these  said  books  treat  about  each  of  his  people,  that  is,  of 
the  said  captains ;  and  on  this  account  it  is  that  this  canaille 
cut  each  other  to  pieces,  for  some  wish  to  act  according  to 
the  commandments  of  one,  and  some  of  another,  and  thus 
they  do  not  know  how  to  make  up  their  minds ;  and  they 
kill  each  other  like  beasts  about  these  heresies,  for  they  are 
all  false. 


In  order  to  explain  the  sect  of  Mahomet,  you  must  know 
that  over  the  said  tower  there  is  a  cupola,  in  which  you  can 
walk  round  the  top,  that  is,  outside.2    You  must  understand 

enceinte  and  the  curtain  which  surrounds  her  father's  remains."  Burck- 
hardt  describes  it  thus  :  "  Near  the  curtain  of  the  Ilejrah  [Hujrah],  but 
separated  from  it,  though  within  the  precincts  of  the  railing,  which 
here,  to  admit  it,  deviates  a  little  from  its  square  shape,  is  the  tomb  of 
Sitna  Fatima,  the  daughter  of  Mohammed  and  wife  of  Ali.  But  some 
difference  of  opinion  exists  whether  her  remains  actually  rest  here,  or 
in  the  burial-ground  called  Bakya,  beyond  the  town." 

1  I  know  of  no  passage  in  Abubekr's  life  which  merits  this  remark. 
He  was  throughout  the  firm  ally  of  Muhammed,  and  on  the  death  of 
the  latter  proposed  two  candidates,  'Omar  and  Abu-'Obeidah,  as  most 
worthy  to  succeed  him.  It  was  mainly  through  the  intervention  of 
'Omar,  who  recognized  his  superior  claims  as  the  special  favourite  of  the 
Prophet,  as  his  sole  companion  in  the  cave  at  Thor,  and  as  having  been 
designated  by  Muhammed  to  preside  at  the  public  prayers  when  he  saw 
his  end  approaching,  that  the  dignity  of  being  his  first  successor  was 
accorded  to  the  aged  Abubekr. 

2  The  dome  over  the  Hujrah,  or  Chamber,  containing  Muhammed's 
tomb.  "  Above  the  hujrah  is  the  green  dome,  surmounted  outside  by  a 
large  gilt  crescent  springing  from  a  series  of  globes.  The  glowing  imagi- 
nations of  the  Moslems  crown  this  gem  of  the  building  with  a  pillar  of 
heavenly  light,  which  directs  from  three  days'  distance  the  pilgrims' 
steps  towards  El-Medinah." — Burton,  Pilgrimage  (o  El-Medinah  and 
Meccah,  vol.  ii.  pp.  73,  74. 


the  trick  they  played  off  upon  the  whole  caravan  the  first 
evening  we  arrived  at  the  tomb  of  Mahomet.  Our  captain 
sent  for  the  superior  of  the  said  mosque,  to  whom  he  said : 
that  he  should  show  him  the  body  of  Nabi — this  Nabi 
means  the  Prophet  Mahomet — that  he  would  give  him  three 
thousand  seraphim  of  gold ;  and  that  he  had  neither  father 
nor  mother,  nor  brothers  nor  sisters,  nor  wife  nor  children, 
neither  had  he  come  to  purchase  spices  or  jewels,  but  that 
he  had  come  to  save  his  soul,  and  to  see  the  body  of  the 
Prophet.  Then  the  superior  answered  him  with  great  vio- 
lence, and  rage,  and  pride,  saying  :  "  How  do  those  eyes  of 
yours,  which  have  done  so  much  evil  in  the  world,  desire 
to  see  him  for  whom  God  has  created  the  heavens  and  the 
earth !"  Then  answered  our  captain :  "  Sidi  intecate  el 
melie ;"  that  is  to  say,  Sir,  you  say  true  ;l  but  do  me  a  fa- 
vour, let  me  see  the  body  of  the  Prophet,  and  immediately 
that  I  have  seen  it,  I  will  pull  out  my  eyes  for  the  love  of 
him.  And  Sidi3  answered  :  "  O  Sir,  I  will  tell  you  the  truth. 
It  is  true  that  our  Prophet  wished  to  die  here,  in  order  to 
set  us  a  good  example  ;  for  he  could  well  have  died  at 
Mecca  had  he  so  willed,  but  he  desired  to  exercise  poverty 
for  our  instruction ;  and  as  soon  as  he  was  dead,  he  was 
carried  at  once  into  heaven  by  the  angels,  and  he  says  that 
he  is  equal  with  God."  Our  captain  said  to  him  :  "  Eise 
Hebene  Marian  phion  ?"  that  is,  Jesus  Christ  the  son  of 
Mary,  where  is  he  ?  The  Sidi  answered  :  "  Azafel  al  Nabi," 
that  is,  at  the  feet  of  Mahomet.3    Our  captain  answered : 

1  Sidi,  anta  tahki  el-melieh.  Sir,  you  say  well.  I  shall  correct  the 
orthography  and  mistranslations  of  Vartherna's  romanized  Arabic, 
preserving  the  barbarisms  of  the  original.  The  orthography  varies  in 
different  editions,  but  in  all  it  is  execrably  bad. 

2  Meaning  the  JShenf  belonging  to  the  mosque. 

3  Isa  ibn  Mariam  fain  hu?  Jesus,  the  Son  of  Mary,  where  is  He? 
As/el  en-Nabi.  Below  (or  under)  the  Prophet.  Burton,  having 
before  him  only  the  translation  of  these  words,  as  he  found  it,  unaccom- 
panied by  the  Arabic,  in  Eden's  History  of  Travels,  supposes  the  reply 

30  THE    TRAVELS    OF 

"  Besbes,  hiosi,"1  that  is,  enough,  enough !  I  will  not  know 
more.  Then  the  captain  came  out  and  said  to  us:  "  See 
where  I  wanted  to  throw  away  three  thousand  seraphim  !" 
In  the  night  time,  at  three  o'clock,  there  came  into  the  camp 
about  ten  or  twelve  of  those  old  men  of  that  sect,  for  the 
caravan  was  encamped  near  the  gate,  two  stones'  cast  off, 
and  these  old  men  began  to  cry  out,  some  in  one  part  and 
some  in  another  :  "  Lei  la  illala,  Mahometh  resullala ;  lam 
Nabi,  hia  la,  hia  resullala,  stasforla  !"  that  is,  God  pardon 
me.  "  Leilla  illala,"  means,  God  was,  God  will  be ;  and  "  Ma- 
hometh resullala"  is,  Mahomet,  the  messenger  of  God,  will 
rise  again  ;  "  lam  Nabi"  signifies,  O  Prophet !  O  God  !  "  hia 
resullala"  means,  Mahomet  will  rise  again;  "  stasforla"  sig- 
nifies, God  pardon  me.2  Our  captain  and  we,  hearing  this 
noise,  immediately  ran  with  our  arms  in  our  hands,  thinking 
they  were  Arabs  who  wanted  to  rob  the  caravan,  saying  to 
them  :  "  What  is  this  you  are  crying  out  ?"  for  they  made 
just  such  a  noise  as  is  heard  amongst  us  Christians  when  a 
saint  performs  a  miracle.  These  old  men  answered :  "  Inte 
mar  abser  miri  igimen  elbeit  el  Naby  uramen  il  sama?" 
that  is,  Do  you  not  see  the  brilliant  light  which  comes  out 
of  the  sepulchre  of  the  Prophet  ?3    Our  captain  said  :  "  I  do 

to  refer  to  the  burial-place  of  Christ,  and  justly  remarks  that  in  that 
sense  it  is  incorrect,  since  no  Moslem  ever  believed  that  Christ  left  his 
body  in  this  world.  My  own  impression  is,  that  it  merely  conveys  the 
speaker's  belief  of  Christ's  inferiority  to  Muhammed,  either  locally  or  in 
rank,  when  the  question  was  propounded. 

1  Bass,  lass.  Enough,  enough;  but  I  cannot  decipher  the  "hiosi," 
unless  it  is  a  corruption  of  the  vulgar  mush  'awaz,  I  don't  want  [any 

9  La  ilah  ilia  Allah  ;  Muhammed  RasM  Allah.  Ya  Nabi  !  Hayya 
Allah  !  Ilayya  Rasill  Allah  !  Istaahfir  lana  !  There  is  no  god  but 
God.  Muhammed  is  the  Prophet  of  God.  0  Prophet  !  Salute  God  ! 
Salute  the  Prophet  !     We  invoke  forgiveness  ! 

3  Antamatabsar  en-nur  [alladhi]  yaji  min  belt  en-Nabi  warn  min  es- 
sama  ?  Do  you  not  see  the  splendour  proceeding  from  the  house  of 
the  Prophet  beyond  the  heavens'?  The  superstition  that  a  super- 
natural light  issues  from  Muhammed's  tomb  -is  still  popular  among 
pious  Moslems. 


not  see  anything  ;"  and  he  asked  all  of  us  if  we  had  seen 
anything,  and  we  answered  :  c<  No."  One  of  the  old  men 
replied  :  "  Are  you  slaves  ?"  that  is,  Mamelukes.  The  cap- 
tain said  :  "  Yes,  they  were  slaves."  The  old  man  answered  : 
"  Oh,  sirs  !  you  cannot  see  these  celestial  things  because 
you  are  not  well  confirmed  in  our  faith."  Our  captain 
replied  :  "  Lami  ianon  ancati  telethe  elphi  seraphi :  vualla 
anemaiati  chelp  menelchelp,"  which  means,  "  Oh,  fools,  I 
was  willing  to  give  you  three  thousand  ducats,  by  God,  but 
I  won't  give  you  them  now,  you  dogs,  sons  of  dogs."1  You 
must  know  that  these  lights  were  certain  artificial  fires  which 
they  had  cunningly  lighted  on  the  top  of  the  said  tower  to 
make  us  believe  that  they  were  lights  which  issued  from 
the  sepulchre  of  Mahomet ;  wherefore  our  captain  ordered 
that  none  of  us  should  on  any  account  enter  the  said  mosque. 
And  you  must  know  (I  tell  it  you  for  a  truth)  there  is  no 
coffin  of  iron  or  steel,  nor  loadstone,  nor  any  mountain  within 
four  miles.  We  remained  there  three  days  in  order  to  give 
rest  to  the  camels.  The  people  of  the  said  city  supply 
themselves  with  the  provisions  which  come  from  Arabia 
Felix,  and  from  Cairo,  and  from  Ethiopia  by  sea,  for  from 
thence  to  the  sea  is  four  days'  journey. 


Now  we  being  tired  of  these  things  and  vanities  of 
Mahomet,  prepared  ourselves  to  pass  onwards,  and  with  our 
pilots,  great  observers  of  their  compasses  and  charts,2  neces- 

1  Ya  majnun !  ana  ''ailti  thalath  elf  ashrafi  !  W  Allah,  ana  ma 
'aati.  Kelb  bin  el -kelb.  You  fool  !  I  give  three  thousand  ducats  !  By 
God,  I  will  not  give.     You  dog,  son  of  a  dog. 

2  E  con  nostri  Piloti  delle  sue  bussole  e  carte  al  corso  del  mare  ne- 
cessarie  grandi  obseruatori  coininciauio  a  caminare  per  rnezo  giorno." 
The  passage  is  obscure.  If  it  means,  as  I  conclude  it  does  from  a  similar 
statement  a  few  lines  farther  on,  that  the  guides  in  the  Ilijaz  used  such 


32  THE    TRAVELS    OF 

sary  when  traversing  the  sea,  began  the  journey  southwards, 
and  we  found  a  very  fine  well  in  which  there  was  a  great 
quantity  of  water,  which  well,  the  Moors  say,  was  made  by 
St.  Mark  the  Evangelist,  by  a  miracle  of  God,  on  account  of 
the  want  of  water  which  prevails  in  that  country.  This  well 
was  dry  at  our  departure.1   [I  must  not  forget  to  mention  our 

instruments  in  order  to  direct  their  course  between  El-Medinah  and 
Meccah,  it  is  unquestionably  absurd.  Our  traveller  may  have  been  led 
into  the  erroneous  inference  by  seeing  the  leaders  of  the  caravan  consult- 
ing small  portable  compasses,  called  Kiblah-ndmeh,  to  ascertain  the  true 
K'lhlah,  or  prescribed  point  to  which  they  should  turn  during  prayer. 
Nevertheless,  the  comparison  which  he  here  institutes  leads  to  the  con- 
jecture that  the  Arabs  who  navigated  the  Red  Sea  at  this  period,  one 
year  at  least  before  the  appearance  of  the  Portuguese  in  that  cpuarter, 
were  in  possession  of  the  mariner's  chart  and  compass,  which  he  expressly 
tells  us  in  a  later  chapter  were  used  on  board  the  vessels  in  which  he 
sailed  from  Borneo  to  Java.  It  is  to  be  regretted  that  Varthema  did 
not  record  the  name  by  which  the  native  pilots  designated  the  compass. 
That  of  Bushla  or  Bnsla,  from  the  Italian  Bussola,  though  common 
among  Arab  sailors  in  the  Mediterranean,  is  very  seldom  used  in  the 
eastern  seas.  Da'irah  and  Beit  el-Ibrah  (the  Circle,  or  House  of  the 
Needle),  are  the  ordinary  appellatives  in  the  Red  Sea.  In  the  Persian 
Gulf,  Kiblah-ndmeh  is  in  more  general  use. 

1  There  are  four  roads  leading  from  El-Medinah  to  Meccah  ;  but  it  is 
impossible,  from  Varthema's  brief  description,  to  decide  with  certainty 
which  was  taken  by  his  caravan.  "  St.  Mark's  well "  affords  no  clue,  as 
the  name  of  that  Apostle  is  utterly  unknown  to  the  Mussulmans  of  the 
llijaz  at  the  present  day  ;  nevertheless,  its  occurrence  in  connexion  with 
this  locality  is  somewhat  remarkable.  Has  the  tradition  a  much  earlier 
origin  ?  Eusebius  makes  St.  Mark  the  first  Bishop  of  Alexandria,  and  the 
patriarchal  see  of  Egypt  has  borne  that  title  ever  since.  Ecclesiastical 
historians  further  assert  that  one  Pantaenus,  a  teacher  of  divinity,  was 
sent  by  Julianus,  bishop  of  Alexandria,  to  preach  the  Gospel  in  Arabia 
towards  the  end  of  the  second  century.  Ibn  Khaldun  and  the  author 
of  the  Aghdni  state  that  several  of  the  Arab  tribes  between  Egypt  and 
Palestine  professed  Christianity  at  the  time  of  Muhammed  ;  and  the 
destruction  of  an  Abyssinian  army  before  Meccah,  a.d.  570,  is  a  well 
authenticated  historical  fact.  Now,  as  the  first  introduction  of  Christ- 
ianity into  Arabia  is  referrible  to  the  zeal  of  the  patriarchal  see  of  St. 
Mark  in  Egypt,  to  which  the  Abyssinian  church  has  always  been  eccle- 
siastically subject,  it  is  just  possible  that  the  occurrence  of  the  Apostle's 
name,  as  mentioned  by  Varthema,  may  be  a  traditional  relic  handed 
down  from  the  earliest  Christians  in  the  Hijaz. 


meeting  with  the  sea  of  sand,  which  we  left  before  we  found 
the  mountain  of  the  Jews,  and  through  which  we  travelled 
five  days  and  five  nights.1  Now  you  must  understand  all 
about  this.  This  is  a  very  large  level  plain,  which  is  full  of 
white  sand  as  fine  as  meal,  where,  if  unfortunately  the  wind 
should  blow  from  the  south  as  you  come  from  the  north,  all 
would  be  dead  men,  and  although  we  had  the  wind  with  us 
we  could  not  see  each  other  at  a  distance  of  ten  paces.  The 
men  ride  on  camels  in  certain  wooden  boxes,2  in  which  they 
sleep  and  eat,  and  the  pilots  go  in  advance  with  their  com- 
passes as  they  do  at  sea.  And  here  many  died  from  thirst, 
and  a  great  many  died  because  when  they  dug  and  found 
water  they  drank  so  much  that  they  burst ;  and  here 
mummies  are  made.3  When  the  wind  blows  from  the  north 
this  sand  collects  against  a  very  large  mountain,  which  is  a  spur 

1  Burton  remarks  on  this  chapter  generally,  that  "  It  is  impossible 
to  distinguish  from  this  description  the  route  taken  by  the  Damascus 
caravan  in  1503.  Of  one  thing  only  we  may  be  certain,  namely,  that 
between  El-Medinah  and  Meccah  there  are  no  '  seas  of  sand.'  "  Ibid. 
p.  358.  I  am  of  opinion  that  the  passage  which  I  have  placed  be- 
tween brackets  is  retrospective,  and  refers  to  a  part  of  the  journey  be- 
tween Damascus  and  El-Medinah,  for  Varthema  describes  his  having 
left  the  sea  of  sand  before  he  came  to  the  Mountain  of  the  Jews. 
Burckhardt's  brief  description  of  the  stages  on  the  present  Hajj  route 
does  not  enable  me  to  identify  the  precise  locality  ;  but  I  think  it 
should  be  looked  for  between  El-Akhdar,  the  sixteenth  stage  from  Da- 
mascus, and  Hedye  or  Khaibar  (the  Mountain  of  the  Jews),  three  days 
from  El-Medinah  ;  for  in  a  note  attached  to  El-Akhdar,  in  his  enume- 
ration of  the  caravan  halts,  Burckhardt  says  :  "  Two  or  three  hundred 
years  ago  the  Hadj  route  went  to  the  east  of  the  present  route,  and 
it  is  even  now  called  Darb  esh-Sharki,  the  Eastern  Road." 

2  The  Shugduf,  the  Taktraivan,  the  Shibriyah,  and  the  Mahaffah, 
vehicles  of  different  construction,  borne  by  camels,  and  used  by  the 
more  wealthy  pilgrims  in  making  the  Hajj. 

3  "  Wonderful  tales  are  still  told  about  these  same  mummies.  I  was 
assured  by  an  Arabian  physician,  that  he  had  broken  a  fowl's  leg,  and 
bound  it  tightly  with  a  cloth  containing  man's  dried  flesh,  which  caused 
the  bird  to  walk  about,  with  a  sound  shank,  on  the  second  day." — 
Burton,  ibid.  p.  361,  n. 

34  THE   TRAVELS    OF 

of  Mount  Sinai.1  When  wc  were  at  the  top  of  the  said  moun- 
tain we  found  a  door  [or  doorway]  of  the  said  mountain  made 
by  the  hand  of  man.  On  the  left  side  upon  the  top  of  the  said 
mountain  there  is  a  grotto  to  which  there  is  a  door  of  iron. 
Some  say  that  Mahomet  stopped  there  to  pray.    At  this  door 

'  Burton,  having  inferred  that  Varthema  was  describing  a  part  of 
the  route  between  El-Medinah  and  Meccah,  supposes  this  to  be  Jebel 
Warkan,  on  the  sea-route  to  the  latter  place.  For  the  reason  already 
given,  I  prefer  identifying  it  with  the  mountains  in  the  vicinity  of 
Hedjer  (more  correctly,  El-IIijr),  which,  though  with  great  latitude,  may 
be  styled  an  offshoot  of  Sinai.  I  am  confirmed  in  this  opinion  by  our 
author's  somewhat  romantic  account  of  the  ancient  remains  existing 
there,  and  the  traditions  with  which  they  are  associated.  Burckhardt's 
description  of  them  is  as  follows  :  "  The  most  interesting  spot  on  the 
caravan  route  between  Damascus  and  Medinah,  within  the  limits  of 
Arabia,  appears  to  be  Hedjer,  or,  as  it  is  sometimes  called,  Medayen 
Saleh,  seven  days  north  of  Medinah.  This  place,  according  to  many 
passages  of  the  Koran  (which  has  a  chapter  entitled  Hedjer),  was 
inhabited  by  a  gigantic  race  of  men,  called  Beni  Thamoud,  whose 
dwellings  were  destroyed  because  they  refused  to  obey  the  admoni- 
tions of  the  prophet  Saleh.  In  circumference,  Hedjer  extends  several 
miles  ;  the  soil  is  fertile,  watered  by  many  wells,  or  running  streams. 
...An  inconsiderable  mountain  bounds  this  fertile  plain  on  the  west, 
at  about  four  miles'  distance  from  the  ground  where  the  pilgrims' 
caravan  usually  encamps.  In  that  mountain  are  large  caves  cut  out 
of  the  rock,  with  sculptured  figures  of  men  and  various  animals,  small 
pillars  on  both  sides  of  the  entrances,  and,  if  I  may  believe  the  Be- 
douins, numerous  sculptures  over  the  doors." — Travels  in  Syria,  Ap- 
pendix vii.  According  to  the  Koran,  (chap,  vii.),  the  destruction  of 
the  Thamudites  was  accompanied  by  "  a  terrible  noise  from  heaven," 
and  Muhammed's  own  conduct,  on  the  occasion  of  his  expedition  against 
El-IIijr,  shortly  after  his  destruction  of  the  Jews  at  Khaibar,  served  to 
perpetuate  among  his  followers  a  dread  of  that  signal  example  of  the 
Divine  vengeance,  for  he  refused  to  let  them  drink  at  one  of  the  wells 
in  the  valley,  bidding  them  flee  the  accursed  spot.  The  vivid  imagina- 
tion of  pious  Moslems  still  attributes  supernatural  noises,  "like  violent 
and  repeated  claps  of  thunder,"  to  the  desolate  abode  of  those  ancient 
Troglodytes,  and  it  may  fairly  be  presumed  that  these  and  similar  tra- 
ditions, and  the  fact  of  a  chapter  of  the  Koran  being  entitled  "  El-Hijr," 
— subjects  which  his  Muhammedan  companions  would  freely  discuss 
while  in  that  vicinity, — gave  rise  to  the  fable  with  which  this  part  of 
Varthema's  narrative  is  disfigured. 


a  very  great  noise  is  heard.  We  passed  this  said  mountain 
with  great  danger,  so  much  so  that  we  thought  we  should 
never  arrive  at  this  place.]  Then  we  departed  from  the  said 
well  and  travelled  for  ten  days,  and  twice  we  fought  with 
50,000  Arabs,  till  at  length  we  arrived  at  Mecca,  and  there 
was  a  very  great  war,  one  brother  with  another,  for  there 
are  four  brothers,  and  they  fought  to  be  Lords  of  Mecca.1 


We  will  now  speak  of  the  very  noble  city  of  Mecca,  what 
it  is,  its  state,  and  who  governs  it.  The  city  is  most  beauti- 
ful, and  is  very  well  inhabited,  and  contains  about  6,000 
families.  The  houses  are  extremely  good,  like  our  own,  and 
there  are  houses  worth  three  or  four  thousand  ducats  each. 
This  city  is  not  surrounded  by  walls.2  A  quarter  of  a  mile 
distant  from  the  city  we  found  a  mountain  where  there  was 
a  road  cut  by  human  labour.3    And  then  we  descended  into 

1  The  remarkable  coincidence  of  this  casual  remark  with  the  historical 
record  of  the  period  has  been  fully  noticed  in  the  Introduction. 

a  "  The  city  is  open  on  every  side  ;  but  the  neighbouring  mountains, 
if  properly  defended,  would  form  a  barrier  of  considerable  strength.... 
The  mode  of  building  is  the  same  as  that  adopted  at  Djidda,  with  the 
addition  of  windows  looking  towards  the  street  :  of  these  many  project 
from  the  wall,  and  have  their  framework  elaborately  carved  or  gaudily 
painted.  Before  them  hang  blinds  made  of  slight  reeds... Every  house 
has  its  terrace." — Burckhaudt's  Travels  in  Arabia,  vol.  i.  pp.  189, 190. 

3  Burton  identifies  this  with  the  Saniyah  Kuda,  a  pass  opening  upon 
the  Meccah  plain.  It  is,  doubtless,  the  same  as  that  described  by  Burck- 
hardt  in  the  following  extract  :  "  Opposite  to  this  building  [a  house 
belonging  to  the  Sherif  Ghaleb],  a  paved  causeway  leads  towards 
the  western  hills,  through  which  is  an  opening  that  seems  artificial. 
El-Azraki  applies  the  name  of  Jebel  el-Hazna  to  this  part  of  the  moun- 
tain, and  says  that  the  road  was  cut  through  the  rock  by  Yahia  ibn 
Khold  ibn  Barmak.  On  the  other  side  of  the  opening,  the  road  descends 
into  the  plain  of  Sheikh  Mahmoud,  so  named  from  the  tomb  of  a  saint, 
round  which  the  Syrian  pilgrims  generally  encamp." — Hid.  p.  234. 

36  THK    TRAVELS    OF 

the  plain.  The  walls  of  the  said  city  are  the  mountains,  and 
it  has  four  entrances.  The  governor  of  this  city  is  a  Sultan, 
that  is,  one  of  the  four  brothers,  and  is  of  the  race  of 
Mahomet,1  and  is  subject  to  the  Grand  Sultan  of  Cairo.  His 
three  brothers  are  always  at  war  with  him.  On  the  18th 
of  May  we  entered  into  the  said  city  of  Mecca ;  we  entered 
from  the  north,  and  afterwards  we  descended  into  the  plain. 
On  the  side  towards  the  south  there  are  two  mountains 
which  almost  touch  each  other,  where  is  the  pass  to  go  to 
the  gate  of  Mecca.  On  the  other  side,  where  the  sun  rises, 
there  is  another  mountain  pass,  like  a  valley,2  through  which 
is  the  road  to  the  mountain  where  they  celebrate  the  sacrifice 
of  Abraham  and  Isaac,  which  mountain  is  distant  from  the 
said  city  about  eight  or  ten  miles.3  The  height  of  this 
mountain  is  two  or  three  casts  of  a  stone  by  hand,  and  it  is 
of  some  kind  of  stone,  not  marble,  but  of  another  colour. 
On  the  top  of  this  said  mountain  there  is  a  mosque  accord- 
ing to  their  custom,  which  has  three  doors.  At  the  foot  of 
the  said  mountain  there  are  two  very  beautiful  reservoirs  of 
water.  One  is  for  the  caravan  from  Cairo,  and  the  other 
for  the  caravan  from  Damascus  ;  which  water  is  collected 
there  from  the  rain  and  comes  from  a  great  distance.4    Now, 

1  A  Sherif.  "  In  Arabia  the  Sherif  is  the  descendant  of  Hasan  through 
his  two  sons,  Zaid  and  Hasan  el-Musanna." — Burton's  Pilgrimage  to 
el-Medinah,  etc.     Vol.  ii.  p.  257,  n. 

2  "  This  is  the  open  ground  leading  to  the  Muna  Pass." — Ibid.  p. 
362,  n. 

3  "  An  error.  The  sacrifice  is  performed  at  Muna,  not  at  Arafat,  the 
mountain  here  alluded  to." — Ibid.  p.  362,  n. 

4  Burckkardt's  account  of  Arafat  reads  like  an  amplification  of  Var- 
thema's  briefer  description.  "  This  granite  hill,  which  is  called  Jebel 
cr-Rahme,  rises  on  the  north-east  side  of  the  plain,  close  to  the  moun- 
tains which  encompass  it,  but  separated  from  them  by  a  rocky  valley. 
It  is  about  a  mile  or  a  mile  and  a  half  in  circuit :  its  sides  are  sloping, 
and  its  summit  is  nearly  two  hundred  feet  above  the  level  of  the  plain... 
On  the  summit  is  shown  the  place  where  Mohammed  used  to  take  his 
station  during  the  hadj  ;  a  small  chapel  [Varthema's  'mosque'?]  for- 
merly stood  over  it,  but  it  was  destroyed  by  the  Wahabys... Several  large 


let  us  return  to  the  city.  At  the  proper  time  we  will  speak 
of  the  sacrifice  which  they  make  at  the  foot  of  the  said 
mountain.  When  we  entered  into  the  said  city  we  found 
the  caravan  from  Cairo,  which  had  arrived  eight  days  before 
us,  because  they  had  not  travelled  by  the  same  route  as  our- 
selves. In  the  said  caravan  there  were  sixty-four  thousand 
camels  and  one  hundred  Mamelukes.  You  must  know  that, 
in  my  opinion,  the  curse  of  God  has  been  laid  upon  the  said 
city,  for  the  country  produces  neither  grass  nor  trees,  nor 
any  one  thing.1  And  they  suffer  from  so  great  a  dearth  of 
water,  that  if  every  one  were  to  drink  as  much  as  he  might 
wish,  four  qaattrini  worth  of  water  daily  would  not  suffice 
them.2  I  will  tell  you  in  what  manner  they  live.  A  great  part 
of  their  provisions  comes  from  Cairo,  that  is,  from  the  Red 
Sea.  There  is  a  port  called  Zida  [Juddah],  which  is  distant 
from  the  said  city  forty  miles.  A  great  quantity  of  food  also 
comes  there  from  Arabia  Felix,  and  also  a  great  part  comes 
from  Ethiopia.  We  found  a  great  number  of  pilgrims,  of  whom 

reservoirs  lined  with  stone  are  dispersed  over  the  plain  :  two  or  three  are 
close  to  the  foot  of  Arafat... They  are  filled  from  the  same  fine  acqueduct 
which  supplies  Mecca,  and  the  head  of  which  is  about  one  hour  and  a 
half  distant  in  the  eastern  mountains." — Travels  in  Arabia,  vol.  i.  pp. 
40-42.  Burton  says  the  Meccans  have  a  tradition  that  the  water  comes 
from  Baghdad. 

1  "  Moslems  who  are  disposed  to  be  facetious  on  serious  subjects  often 
remark,  that  it  is  a  mystery  why  Allah  should  have  built  his  house  in  a 
spot  so  barren  and  desolate." — Burton,  Ibid.     Vol.  ii.  p.  3G3,  n. 

2  "  With  respect  to  water,  Mecca  is  not  much  better  provided  than 
Djiddah.  There  are  but  few  cisterns  for  collecting  rain,  and  the  well 
water  is  so  brackish,  that  it  is  used  only  for  culinary  purposes... The 
famous  well  of  Zemzem,  in  the  Great  Mosque,  is  indeed  sufficiently 
copious  to  supply  the  whole  town  ;  but,  however  holy,  its  water  is  heavy 
to  the  taste,  and  impedes  digestion... The  best  water  in  Mecca  is  brought 
from  the  vicinity  of  Arafat,  six  or  seven  hours  distant.  The  supply 
which  it  affords  in  ordinary  times  is  barely  sufficient  for  the  use  of  the 
inhabitants,  and  during  the  pilgrimage  sweet  water  becomes  an  absolute 
scarcity.  A  small  skin  of  water,  two  of  which  skins  a  person  may  carry, 
being  then  often  sold  for  one  shilling,  a  very  high  price  among  Arabs." 
— Bukckhakdt's,  Travels  in  Syria,  vol.  i.  pp.  193-195. 

38  THE    TRAVELS    OF 

some  came  from  Ethiopia,  some  from  India  Major,  some 
from  India  Minor,  some  from  Persia,  and  some  from  Syria. 
Truly  I  never  saw  so  many  people  collected  in  one  spot  as 
during  the  twenty  days  I  remained  there.  Of  these  people 
some  had  come  for  the  purposes  of  trade,  and  some  on 
pilgrimage  for  their  pardon,  in  which  pardon  you  shall 
understand  what  they  do. 


First  we  will  speak  of  the  merchandize,  which  comes 
from  many  parts.  From  India  Major  there  come  a  great 
many  jewels  and  all  sorts  of  spices,  and  part  comes  from 
Ethiopia;  and  there  also  comes  from  India  Major,  from  a 
city  called  Bangchella,1  a  very  large  quantity  of  stuffs  of 
cotton  and  of  silk,  so  that  in  this  city  there  is  carried  on  a 
very  extensive  traffic  of  merchandize,  that  is,  of  jewels, 
spices  of  every  kind  in  abundance,  cotton  in  large  quantites, 
wax  and  odoriferous  substances  in  the  greatest  abundance. 


Now  let  us  turn  to  the  pardoning  of  the  said  pilgrims. 
In  the  midst  of  the  said  city  there  is  a  very  beautiful  temple, 
similar  to  the  Colosseum  of  Rome,  but  not  made  of  such 
large  stones,  but  of  burnt  bricks,  and  it  is  round  in  the  same 
manner ;  it  has  ninety  or  one  hundred  doors  around  it,  and  is 
arched,  and  has  many  of  these  doors.2    On  entering  the  said 

1  Bengal,  pronounced  Bangala  by  the  Arabs(f) 

2  Joseph  Pitts,  who  visited  Meccah  in  1608,  describes  the  Great 
Mosque  as  having  "  about  forty-two  doors  to  enter  into  it, — not  so  much, 
I  think,  for  necessity,  as  figure ;  for  in  some  places  they  are  close  by 
one  another."     Ali  Bey  says  :  "  The  temple  has  nineteen  gates  with 

LUDOVICO    1)1    VARTHEMA.  89 

temple  you  descend  ten  or  twelve  steps  of  marble,  and  here 
and  there  about  the  said  entrance  there  stand  men  who  sell 
jewels,  and  nothing  else.  And  when  you  have  descended 
the  said  steps  you  find  the  said  temple  all  around,  and  every- 
thing, that  is,  the  walls,  covered  with  gold.1  And  under  the 
said  arches  there  stand  about  4,000  or  5,000  persons,  men 
and  women,  which  persons  sell  all  kinds  of*  odoriferous 
things;  the  greater  part  are  powders  for  preserving  human 
bodies,2  because  pagans  come  there  from  all  parts  of  the 
world.  Truly,  it  would  not  be  possible  to  describe  the 
sweetness  and  the  odours  which  are  smelt  within  this  temple. 
It  appears  like  a  spicery  full  of  musk,  and  of  other  most 
delicious  odours.  On  the  23rd  of  May  the  said  pardon 
commences  in  the  above-mentioned  temple.  The  pardon  is 
this  :  Within  the  said  temple,  and  uncovered,  and  in  the 
centre,  there  is  a  tower,  the  size  of  which  is  about  five 
or   six   paces  on  every  side,3  around  which  tower  there  is 

thirty-eight  arches."  Burekhardt,  in  1814  :  "  The  gates  of  the  mosque 
are  nineteen  in  number,  and  are  distributed  about  without  any  order  of 
symmetry.  As  each  gate  consists  of  two  or  three  arches  or  divisions, 
separated  by  narrow  walls,  those  divisions  are  counted  in  the  enumera- 
tion of  the  gates  leading  into  the  Kaabah,  and  thus  make  up  the  number 
thirty-nine."  Burton  says  :  "  The  principal  gates  arc  seventeen  in  num- 
ber. In  the  old  building  they  were  more  numerous."  The  latter  fact, 
coupled  with  Burckhardt's  description  of  the  double  and  triple  division 
in  each  gate,  may  account  for  Varthema's  approximate  estimate,  and 
might  have  spared  hiui  Burton's  remark  thereon,  who  calls  it  "  a  pro- 
digious exaggeration." 

1  "  Seven  [or,  according  to  Burton,  eight]  paved  causeways  lead  from 
the  colonnades  towards  the  Kaabah  or  Holy  House  in  the  centre... The 
whole  area  of  the  moscpue  is  on  a  lower  level  than  any  of  the  streets  sur- 
rounding it.  There  is  a  descent  of  eight  or  ten  steps  from  the  gate  on 
the  north  side  into  the  platform  of  the  colonnade,  and  of  three  or  four 
steps  from  the  gate  on  the  south  side." — Burckhardt's  Travels  in 
Arabia,  vol.  i.  p.  247. 

*  "  I  saw  nothing  of  the  kind,  though  constantly  in  the  Ilaram  at 
Meccah." — Burton. 

3  The  Kaabah  is  here  described.  Burckhardt  calls  it  "an  oblong 
massive  structure  18  paces  in  length,  14  in  breadth,  and  from  35  to  40 

40  THE    TRAVELS    OF 

a  cloth  of  black  silk.1  And  there  is  a  door  all  of  silver, 
of  the  height  of  a  man,  by  which  you  enter  into  the  said 
tower.  On  each  side  of  the  door  there  is  a  jar,  which 
they  say  is  full  of  balsam,  and  which  is '  shown  on  the 
day  of  Pentecost.2  And  they  say  that  that  balsam  is  part  of 
the  treasures  of  the  Sultan.  On  each  side  of  the  said  tower 
there  is  a  large  ring  at  the  corner.3  On  the  24th  of  May  all 
the  people  begin,  before  day,  to  go  seven  times  around  the 
said  tower,  always  touching  and  kissing  each  corner.4  And 
at  about  ten  or  twelve  paces  distant  from  the  said  tower 
there  is  another  tower,  like  one  of  your  chapels,  with  three 
or  four  doors.  In  the  centre  of  the  said  tower  there  is  a 
very  beautiful  well,  which  is  seventy  fathoms  deep,  and  the 
water  is  brackish.5     At  this  well  there  stand  six  or  eight 

feet  in  height."  Burton  says  it  is  18  paces  in  breadth,  and  22  in  length  ; 
but  as  the  Kaabah  was  entirely  rebuilt  as  it  now  stands  in  1627,  these 
measurements  afford  no  test  of  the  accuracy  of  Varthema's  statement. 

1  The  Kisivah,  or  curtain  covering  the  Kaabah.  Burton  says  that  the 
material  now  is  a  mixture  of  silk  and  cotton.  It  is  renewed  annually  at 
the  time  of  the  Hajj. 

2  The  door  of  the  present  Kaabah,  according  to  Burckhardt,  is  "  wholly 
coated  with  silver,  and  has  several  gilt  ornaments  ;  upon  its  threshold 
are  placed  every  night  various  small  lighted  wax  candles,  and  perfuming 
pans  filled  with  musk,  aloe-wood,  etc." 

Giovanni  Finati  (1814)  restricts  the  opening  of  the  Kaabah  to  once 
a  year.  Burckhardt  says  it  is  opened  two  or  three  times  a  year.  Burton, 
that  "  the  house  may  now  be  entered  ten  or  twelve  times  a  year  gratis  ; 
and  by  pilgrims,  as  often  as  they  can  collect,  amongst  parties,  a  sum 
sufficient  to  tempt  the  guardians'  cupidity." 

Varthema  was  probably  thinking  of  Good  Friday  and  the  Easter 
which  follows,  and  connecting  in  his  mind  the  Muhammedan  sacrifices 
at  Arafat  with  the  solemnities  of  those  Christian  seasons,  when  he  sjioke 
of  "  the  day  of  Pentecost." 

3  "  These  are  the  brazen  rings  which  serve  to  fasten  the  lower  edge  of 
the  Kisivah,  or  covering." — Burton. 

4  "  Then  commenced  the  ceremony  of  Tawdf,  or  circumambulation.... 
I  repeated,  after  my  Mutawwif,  or  cicerone  :  '  In  the  name  of  Allah,  and 
Allah  is  omnipotent  !  I  purpose  to  circuit  seven  circuits  unto  Almighty 
Allah  glorified  and  exalted.' " — Burton. 

5  "  A  true  description  of  the  water  of  the  well  Zemzem."  Burton.  The 

LUDOVIGO    1)1    VARTHEMA.  41 

men  appointed  to  draw  water  for  the  people.    And  when  the 

said  people  have  gone  seven  times  around  the  first  tower, 

they  go  to  this  well,  and  place  themselves  with  their  backs 

towards  the  brink  of  the  well,  saying  :  "  Bizmilei  erachman 

erachin  stoforla  aladin,"  which  means,  In  the  name  of  God, 

God  pardon  me  my  sins.1    And  those  who  draw  the  water 

throw  three  bucketsful  over  each  person,  from  the  crown  of 

their  heads  to  their  feet,  and  all  bathe,  even  though  their 

dress  be  made  of  silk.     And  they  say  in  this  wise,  that  all 

their  sins  remain   there   after  this   washing.2    And  they  say 

that  the  first  tower  which  they  walked  round  was  the  first 

house  that  Abraham  built,3    And   all  having  thus   bathed, 

*  ... 

they  go  by  way  of  the  valley  to  the  said  mountain  of  which 

we  have  before  spoken,  and  remain  there  two  days  and  one 

night.     And    when    they    are    all    at    the   foot   of  the   said 

mountain,  they  make  the  sacrifice  there.4 

building  which  encloses  the  well  (Varthema's  "  tower")  was  erected, 
according  to  Burckhardt,  a.d.  1072.  Burton  estimates  the  distance 
between  the  well  and  the  Kaabah  at  forty  cubits. 

1  B'ism-IUdh  er-rahmdn  er-rahlm.  Istaghfir  lana.  In  the  name  of 
God,  the  Pitiful,  the  Compassionate.     Pardon  us. 

3  "  Many  hadjis,  not  content  with  drinking  it,  strip  themselves  in  the 
room,  and  have  buckets  of  it  thrown  over  them,  by  which  they  believe 
that  the  heart  is  purified  as  well  as  the  body." — Burckhardt,  Idem. 
vol.  ii.  p.  264. 

3  "  Mohammedan  mythology  affirms  that  the  Kaabah  was  constructed 
in  heaven  two  thousand  years  before  the  creation  of  this  world,  and  that 
it  was  then  adored  by  the  angels,  whom  the  Almighty  ordered  to  perform 
the  Tawaf,  or  walk  round  it.  Adam,  who  was  the  first  true  believer,  erected 
the  Kaabah  on  earth  on  its  present  site,  which  is  directly  below  the  spot 
it  occupied  in  heaven. ..The  sons  of  Adam  repaired  the  Kaabah,  and  after 
the  deluge  Ibrahim  [Abraham],  wheu  he  abandoned  the  idolatry  of  his 
forefathers,  was  ordered  by  the  Almighty  to  reconstruct  it.  His  son 
Ismayl  [Ishmael],  who  from  his  infancy  resided  with  his  mother  Hadjer 
(Hagar)  near  the  site  of  Meccah,  assisted  his  father,  who  had  come  from 
Syria  to  obey  the  commands  of  Allah." — Burckhardt,  Idem.  p.  297. 

4  Burton  justly  observes  that  there  is  great  confusion  in  this  part  of 
Varthema's  narrative,  and  gives  the  following  as  the  consecutive  order  of 
the  ceremonies  :  "On  the  9th  of  Zu'l  Hijjah,  the  pilgrims  leave  Mount 
Arafat.     On  the  12th,  many  hasten  into  Meccah,  and  enter  the  Kaabah. 

42  THE    TRAVELS    OF 


Every  generous  mind  is  the  most  readily  delighted  and 
incited  to  great  deeds  by  novel  events.  Wherefore,  in  order 
to  satisfy  many  of  this  disposition,  I  will  add  concisely  the 
custom  which  is  observed  in  their  sacrifices.  Every  man  and. 
woman  kills  at  least  two  or  three,  and  some  four  and  some 
six  sheep  ;  so  that  I  really  believe  that  on  the  first  day  more 
than  30,000  sheep  are  killed  by  cutting  their  throats,  facing 
the  east.  Each  person  gives  them  to  the  poor  for  the  love 
of  God,1  for  there  were  about  30,000  poor  people  there,  who 
made  a  very  large  hole  in  the  earth,  and  then  put  in  it  camels' 
dung,  and  thus  they  made  a  little  fire,  and  warmed  the  flesh 
a  little,  and  then  ate  it.2  And  truly,  it  is  my  opinion,  that 
these  poor  men  came  more  on  account  of  their  hunger  than 
for  the  sake  of  the  pardon;  and  as  a  proof  that  it  was  so,  we 
had  a  great  number  of  cucumbers,  which  came  from  Arabia 
Felix,  and  we  ate  them  all  but  the  rind,  which  we  afterwards 
threw  away  outside  our  tent.  And  about  forty  or  fifty  of 
the  said  poor  people  stood  before  our  tent,  and  made  a  great 
scrambling  among  themselves,  in  order  to  pick  up  the  said 
rinds,  which  were  full  of  sand.     By  this  it  appeared  to  us 

They  then  return  to  the  valley  of  Muna,  where  their  tents  are  pitched, 
and  sacrifice  the  victims.  On  the  10th,  the  tents  are  struck,  and  the 
pilgrims  re-enter  Meccah." 

1  "  Others  stood  before  their  tents,  and,  directing  the  victim's  face 
towards  the  Kiiabah,  cut  its  throat,  ejaculating  :  '  Bismillah  !  Allahu 

"  It  is  considered  a  meritorious  act  to  give  away  the  victim  without 
eating  any  portion  of  its  flesh." — Burton. 

2  This  extempore  style  of  cooking  is  common  among  the  Bedawin. 
Niebuhr  describes  it  with  his  usual  accuracy  :  "  Quelquefois  ils  [les 
Arabes  du  desert]  mettent  une  boule  de  pate  sur  des  charbons  de  bois 
allumes,  ou  sur  du  fumier  de  chameau  seche  ;  ils  la  couvrent  soigneuse- 
ment  de  ce  feu,  afiu  qu'elle  en  soit  penetree  ;  ensuite  iis  en  otent  les 
cendrcs,  et  la  mangent  toute  chaude." —  Voyai/e  en  Arabic,  vol.  iii.  p.  40. 


that  they  came  rather  to  satisfy  their  hunger  than  to  wash 
away  their  sins.1  On  the  second  clay  a  cadi  of  their  faith, 
like  one  of  our  preachers,  ascended  to  the  top  of  the  said 
mountain  and  made  a  discourse  to  all  the  people,  which 
discourse  lasted  for  about  an  hour  ;2  and  he  made  in  their 
language  a  sort  of  lamentation,  and  besought  the  people  that 
they  should  weep  for  their  sins.  And  he  said  to  them  in 
a  loud  voice :  "  Oh,  Abraham,  well- wished  for  and  well- 
loved  of  God  !"  And  then  he  said  :  "  Oh,  Isaac,  chosen  of 
God,  friend  of  God,  beseech  God  for  the  people  of  Naby !" 
and  then  were  heard  very  great  lamentations.3  And  when 
he  had  finished  his  sermon,  the  whole  caravan  rushed  back 
into  Mecca  with  the  greatest  haste,  for  at  the  distance  of 
six  miles  there  were  more  than  20,000  Arabs,  who  wanted 
to    rob    the    caravan,  and   we   arrived   for   the    defence    of 

1  Burton  remarks  that  "  this  well  describes  the  wretched  state  of  the 
poor  Takruri  and  other  Africans,  but  it  attributes  to  them  an  unworthy 
motive."  He  gives  a  still  more  revolting  instance  of  their  abject  poverty, 
which  occurred  on  the  road  between  El-Medinah  and  Meccah :  "  After 
the  long  and  sultry  afternoon,  beasts  of  burden  began  to  sink  in  con- 
siderable numbers.  The  fresh  carcases  of  asses,  ponies,  and  camels, 
dotted  the  wayside :  those  that  had  been  allowed  to  die  were  abandoned 
to  the  foul  carrion-birds,  the  Rakham  (vulture),  and  the  yellow  Ukab  ; 
and  those  whose  throat  had  been  properly  cut,  were  surrounded  by  troops 
of  Takruri  pilgrims.  These  half-starved  wretches  cut  steaks  from  the 
choice  portions,  and  slung  them  over  their  shoulders  till  an  opportunity 
of  cooking  might  arrive.  I  never  saw  men  more  destitute." — Ibid.  vol. 
iii.  pp.  7,8. 

2  The  Khuibat  el-  Wakfah,  or  Sermon  of  the  Standing,  usually  preached 
by  the  Kadhi  of  Meccah  from  Arafat,  the  orator  taking  his  stand  on  the 
stone  platform  near  the  top.  In  Burckhardt  and  Burton's  time  the 
sermon  lasted  nearly  three  hours,  i.e.  from  three  p.m.  till  towards  sun- 

3  Joseph  Pitts,  the  first  Englishman  who  visited  Meccah,  describes  a 
similar  scene  during  the  Hajj  of  1680  : — "  It  was  a  sight,  indeed,  able  to 
pierce  one's  heart,  to  behold  so  many  thousands  in  their  garments  of 
humility  and  mortification  [clad  in  the  white  ihrdm],  with  their  naked 
heads,  and  cheeks  watered  with  tears  ;  and  to  hear  their  grievous  sighs 
and  sobs,  begging  earnestly  for  the  forgiveness  of  their  sins." — A  Faith- 
ful Account  of  the  Religion  and  Manners  of  the  Mahometans,  etc. 

44  THE    TRAVELS    OF 

Mecca.1  But  when  we  had  gone  half  way,  that  is,  between 
Mecca  and  the  mountain  where  the  sacrifice  is  made,  we 
found  a  certain  little  wall  four  fathoms  high,  and  at  the 
loot  of  the  said  wall  a  very  great  quantity  of  small  stones, 
which  stones  are  thrown  there  by  all  the  people  when 
they  pass  that  way,  for  the  objects  which  you  shall  hear. 
They  say  that  when  God  commanded  Abraham  that  he 
should  go  and  sacrifice  his  son,  he  went  before  him,  and  he 
said  to  his  son  that  he  must  follow  after  him,  because  it  was 
necessary  to  fulfil  the  commandments  of  God.  The  son 
answered  him  :  "  I  am  well  pleased  to  fulfil  the  command- 
ment of  God."  And  when  Isaac'2  arrived  at  the  above-men- 
tioned little  wall,  they  say  that  the  devil  appeared  to  him  in 
the  form  of  one  of  his  friends  and  said  to  him  :  "  My  friend 
Isaac,  where  art  thou  going  ?"  He  answered  him  :  "  I  am 
going  to  my  father,  who  is  waiting  for  me  in  such  a  place." 
The  devil  answered  him  :  "  Do  not  go,  my  son,  for  thy 
father  will  sacrifice  thee  to  God  and  will  put  thee  to  death." 
And  Isaac  replied  :  "  Let  it  be  so  ;  if  such  be  the  will  of 
God,  so  let  it  be."  The  devil  then  disappeared,  and  a  little 
farther  on  he  appeared  in  the  form  of  another  dear  friend 
of  Isaac,  and  said  to  him  the  above-mentioned  words.  They 
relate  that  Isaac  answered  with  anger :  "  Let  it  be  so  ;"  and 

1  On  this  particular  occasion  the  return  of  the  pilgrims  may  have  been 
hastened  by  fear  of  an  apprehended  attack  from  the  Bedawin  ;  but  the 
same  rush,  often  attended  with  fatal  results,  occurs  at  every  Hajj,  and 
has  given  to  that  part  of  the  ceremonies  the  name  of  JSd-Defaa  min 
Arafat,  the  Hurry  from  Arafat.  "  Every  man,"  says  Burton,  "  urged 
his  beast  with  might  and  main  :  it  was  sunset  ;  the  plain  bristled  with 
tent-pegs,  litters  were  crushed,  pedestrians  trampled,  and  camels  over- 
thrown ;  single  combats  with  sticks  and  other  weapons  took  place  ; — 
here  a  woman,  there  a  child,  and  there  a  camel  were  lost ;  briefly,  it  was 
a  state  of  chaotic  confusion."  The  cause  of  this  precipitation  is  that, 
in  accordance  with  the  example  of  Muhammed,  the  Salat  el- Esha,  or 
Prayer  shortly  after  Sunset,  should  be  said  at  the  mosque  of  Muzdalifah 
about  three  hours  distant. 

-  Here  Varthema  is  in  error.  According  to  Muhammedan  theology  it 
was  Ishmael  and  not  Isaac  who  was  ordered  to  be  sacrificed. 


took  a  stone  and  threw  it  in  the  devil's  face  :  and  for  this 
reason,  when  the  people  arrive  at  the  said  place,  each  one 
throws  a  stone  at  the  said  wall,  and  then  they  go  to  the  city.1 
We  found  in  the  street  of  the  said  city  15,000  or  20,000 
doves,  which  they  say  are  of  the  stock  of  that  dove  which 
spoke  to  Mahomet  in  the  form  of  the  Holy  Spirit,2  which 
doves  fly  about  the  whole  district  at  their  pleasure,  that  is, 
in  the  shops  where  they  sell  grain,  millet,  rice,  and  other 
vegetable  productions.     And  the  owners  of  the  said  articles 

1  "  Bartema  alludes  to  the  'Shay tan  el  Kabir,'  the  "Great  Devil,'  as 
the  buttress  at  El  Munah  is  called.  His  account  of  Satan's  appearance 
is  not  strictly  correct.  Most  Moslems  believe  that  Abraham  threw  the 
stone  at  the  '  Rajim,' — the  lapidated  one  ;  but  there  are  various  tradi- 
tions on  the  subject." — Burton. 

Tbis  custom  of  maledictory  lapidation  prevails  elsewhere  in  the  East. 
In  1835,  while  travelling  from  Sidon  to  Tyre,  not  far  from  the  former 
place,  my  muleteer  and  another  Mussulman  who  accompanied  us  each 
took  up  several  small  stones,  at  the  same  time  giving  me  a  handful,  and 
requesting  me  to  follow  their  example.  Shortly  after,  we  came  in  sight 
of  a  conical  heap  of  loose  pebbles  and  stones  which  stood  in  the  road,  on 
approaching  which  my  companions  hurled  their  stones  at  it  with  great 
vehemence,  uttering  simultaneously  a  long  string  of  curses  on  the  me- 
mory of  a  famous  robber  and  murderer,  who,  as  I  afterwards  learned, 
had  been  killed  and  buried  there  half  a  century  before.  It  has  often 
occurred  to  me  since,  that  the  ancient  practice,  recorded  in  the  Old 
Testament,  of  raising  a  heap  of  stones,  or  cairns,  over  notorious  crimi- 
nals, may  have  been  analogous  to  that  which  I  have  just  mentioned, 
and  was,  perhaps,  the  origin  of  the  rite  instituted  by  Muhammed  of 
casting  stones  at  the  places  where  Satan  is  said  to  have  appeared  to 
Abraham  in  the  Valley  of  Muna  (more  properly,  Mina).  The  language 
in  which  Scripture  describes  the  execution  of  Achan  is  remarkable  : — 
"  And  all  Israel  stoned  him  with  stones,  and  burned  him  with  fire  after 
they  had  stoned  him  with  stones.  And  they  raised  over  him  a  great  heap 
of  stones  unto  this  day."  Joshua  vii.  25,  26.  I  think  it  may  fairly 
be  inferred  from  this  account  that  the  stoning  on  the  occasion  was  not 
only  general  on  the  part  of  the  Israelites,  but  that  the  action  or  cere- 
mony was,  or  was  intended  to  be,  perpetuated.  See  also  Joshua  viii.  29  ; 
2  Sam.  xviii.  17. 

3  "  A  Christian  version  of  an  obscure  Moslem  legend  about  a  white 
dove  alighting  on  the  Prophet's  shoulder,  and  appearing  to  whisper  in 
his  ear  whilst  he  was  addressing  a  congregation." — Burton. 

40  THE    TRAVELS    OF 

are  not  at  liberty  to  kill  them  or  catch  them.  And  if  any- 
one were  to  strike  any  of  those  doves,  they  would  fear  that 
the  country  would  be  ruined.1  And  you  must  know  that 
they  cause  very  great  expense  within  the  temple. 




In  another  part  of  the  said  temple  is  an  enclosed  place  in 
which  there  are  two  live  unicorns,  and  these  are  shown  as 

1  "  Meccah  generally,  hut  the  mosque  in  particular,  abounds  with 
nocks  of  pigeons,  which  are  considered  the  inviolable  property  of  the 
temple,  and  are  called  the  Pigeons  of  the  Beit- Allah.  Nobody  dares  to 
kill  any  of  them  when  they  enter  private  houses.  In  the  square  of  the 
mosque  several  small  stone  basins  are  regularly  filled  with  water  for  their 
use." — Burckhardt,  Travels  in  Arabia,  vol.  i.  p.  227. 

When  Muhammed,  accompanied  by  Abubekr,  fled  from  Meccah,  he 
took  refuge  in  a  cave  of  Mount  Thor,  situated  about  three  miles  to  the 
south  of  that  city,  to  which  spot  he  was  traced  by  the  emissaries  of  the 
hostile  chiefs  of  the  Koraish  ;  but  on  noticing  that  a  dove  or  pigeon  had 
laid  its  eggs  in  the  narrow  passage,  and  that  a  spider  had  spun  its  web 
across  it,  they  discontinued  the  search,  remarking  that  if  the  refugees 
had  entered  there,  the  eggs  would  have  been  broken,  and  the  web  de- 
stroyed. The  reverence  for  the  pigeon  which  prevails  among  the  Mos- 
lems of  the  Hijaz  is  supposed  to  originate  in  this  tradition ;  neverthe- 
less, Burton  states  El-Medinah  it  is  sometimes  used  as  an  article 
of  food.  The  same  is  true  of  many  other  parts  of  the  East,  but,  as  a 
general  rule,  Moslems  everywhere  have  a  superstitious  notion  that  ill- 
luck  is  associated  with  the  killing  of  pigeons. 

2  Burton  remarks  that  these  animals  "  might  possibly  have  been 
African  antelopes,  which  a  lusus  naturae  had  deprived  of  their  second 
horn," adding,  "but  the  suspicion  of  fable  remains."  I  was  inclined,  at 
first  sight,  to  coincide  in  this  opinion,  and  to  conclude  that  Varthema 
saw  merely  two  anomalous  specimens  of  the  Oryx,  by  no  means  an  un- 
common quadruped  on  the  north-east  coast  of  Africa,  judging  from  the 
quantity  of  its  horns  brought  to  Aden  by  the  Somalis.  On  further  re- 
flection, however,  I  am  induced  to  believe  that  the  "  unicorns"  which 
our  traveller  describes  with  so  much  exactness,  and  which  were  "  shown 

LUDOVICO    1)1    VARTHEMA.  47 

very  remarkable  objects,  which  they  certainly  are.  I  will 
tell  you  how  they  are  made.     The  elder  is  formed  like  a 

as  very  remarkable  objects,"  were  living  representatives  of  a  species  of 
the  antelope  family,  the  existence  of  which  is  very  generally  doubted. 

The  following  extracts  on  this  interesting  subject  are  from  the  notes 
of  Dr.  Edward  Robinson,  the  learned  American  editor  of  Calmet's 
Dictionary  of  the  Holy  Bible,  under  the  head  of  "  Unicorn,"  who,  among 
other  authorities,  quotes  the  above  testimony  of  Varthema. 

The  figure  of  the  unicorn  is  depicted,  according  to  Niebuhr,  on  almost 
all  the  staircases  found  among  the  ruins  of  Persepolis.  Voyage  en  Arabie, 
vol.  ii.  p.  109. 

Pliny  {Hist.  Nat.  viii.  21)  in  speaking  of  the  wild  beasts  of  India  says  : 
"  The  unicorn  (fera  monoceros)  is  an  exceedingly  fierce  animal,  resem- 
bling a  horse  as  to  the  rest  of  its  body,  but  having  the  head  like  a  stag, 
the  feet  like  an  elephant,  and  the  tail  like  a  wild  boar  ;  its  roaring  is 
loud  ;  and  it  has  a  black  horn  of  about  two  cubits  projecting  from  the 
middle  of  its  forehead."  With  the  exception  of  the  Sacred  Scriptures, 
these  seem  to  be  the  chief  ancient  notices  of  the  existence  of  the  animal 
in  question. 

Don  Juan  Gabriel,  a  Portuguese  colonel  who  lived  several  years  in 
Abyssinia,  assures  us,  that  in  the  region  of  Agamos  in  the  Abyssinian 
province  of  Damota,  he  had  seen  an  animal  of  the  form  and  size  of  a 
middle-sized  horse,  of  a  dark  chesnut-browu  colour,  and  with  a  whitish 
horn  about  five  spans  long  upon  the  forehead;  the  mane  and  tail  were 
black,  and  the  legs  short  and  slender.  (Ludolph,  Hist.  JEthiop.  lib.  i. 
c.  10.)  This  account  is  confirmed  by  father  Lobo,  who  lived  for  a  long 
time  as  a  missionary  in  Abyssinia.  He  adds,  that  the  unicorn  is  ex- 
tremely shy,  and  escapes  from  closer  observation  by  a  speedy  flight  into 
the  forests.     {Voyage  Hist.  d'Abyssinie,  Amst.  1728,  vol.  i.  p.  83,  291.) 

Dr.  Sparrman,  the  Swedish  naturalist,  who  visited  the  Cape  of  Good 
Hope  in  1772-6,  gives  an  account  of  one  Jacob  Kock,  who  had  travelled 
over  the  greater  part  of  South  Africa,  and  who  had  found  on  the  face  of 
a  rock  a  drawing  representing  a  quadruped  with  one  horn.  The  Hot- 
tentots told  him,  that  the  animal  there  depicted  was  very  like  a  horse, 
but  had  a  straight  horn  on  the  forehead.  They  added  that  these  ani- 
mals were  rare,  that  they  ran  with  great  rapidity,  and  were  very  fierce. 

A  more  definite  account  of  a  similar  animal  is  contained  in  the  Trans- 
actions of  the  Zealand  Academy  of  Science  at  Flushing.  (Pt.  xv.  Mid- 
delb.  1792.  Pra?f.  p.  lvi.)  The  account  was  transmitted  from  the  Cape 
of  Good  Hope  by  Mr.  Henry  Cloete.  It  states  that  a  bastard  Hottentot, 
named  Gerritt  Sliuger,  related  that  while  engaged  with  a  party  in  pur- 
suit of  the  savage  Bushmen,  they  got  sight  of  nine  strange  animals, 
and  shot  one  of  them.     It  resembled  a  horse,  and  was  of  a  light-gray 

48  THE    TRAVELS    OF 

colt  of  thirty  months  old,  and  he  has  a  horn  in  the  forehead, 
which  horn  is  about  three  braccia  in  length.  The  other 
unicorn  is  like  a  colt  of  one  year  old,  and  he  has  a  horn  of 
about  four  palmi  long.1  The  colour  of  the  said  animal  re- 
sembles that  of  a  dark  bay  horse,  and  his  head  resembles 
that  of  a  stag  ;  his  neck  is  not  very  long,  and  he  has  some 

colour,  with  white  stripes  under  the  lower  jaw.  It  had  a  single  horn, 
directly  in  front,  as  long  as  one's  arm,  and  at  the  base  about  as  thick. 
The  hoofs  were  round  like  those  of  a  horse,  but  divided  below  like  those 
of  oxen.  Mr.  Cloete  mentions  that  several  different  natives  and  Hotten- 
tots testify  to  the  existence  of  a  similar  animal  with  one  horn. 

The  Quarterly  Review  for  October  1820  (vol.  xxiv.  p.  120)  contains  a 
letter  from  Major  Latter,  commanding  in  the  Rajah  of  Sikkim's  terri- 
tories, addressed  to  the  Adjutant-General  Nicol,  wherein  he  explicitly 
states  that  the  unicorn,  so  long  considered  a  fabulous  animal,  actually 
exists  at  this  moment  in  the  interior  of  Thibet,  where  it  is  well  known 
to  the  inhabitants,  and  is  called  by  them  the  one-horned  tso'po.  They 
describe  it  as  being  as  large  as  a  middling-sized  horse  ;  fierce  and  ex- 
tremely wild  ;  seldom,  if  ever,  caught  alive,  but  frequently  shot. 

A  paragraph  in  the  Calcutta  Government  Gazette,  August  1821,  gives 
the  following  sequel  to  the  foregoing:  "  Major  Latter  has  obtained  the 
horn  of  a  young  unicorn  from  the  Sachia  Lama,  which  is  now  before  us. 
He  expects  shortly  to  obtain  the  head  of  the  animal,  with  the  hoofs  and 
skin,  which  will  afford  positive  proof  of  the  form  and  character  of  the 
tso'fo,  or  Thibet  unicorn." 

Whether  Major  Latter's  expectation  was  ever  realized,  I  am  unable 
to  say;  but  Professor  Owen,  whom  I  had  the  pleasure  of  consulting  on 
the  subject,  regards  the  existence  of  the  unicorn  as  mythical,  to  be  classed 
with  the  mermaid  and  sea  serpent,  and  he  consequently  infers  that  Var- 
thema,  however  trustworthy  on  other  matters  of  fact,  was  led  astray 
in  this  instance,  either  through  zoological  ignorance,  preconceived  notions, 
or  defective  examination,  or,  perhaps,  by  a  combination  of  these  draw- 
backs. Not  presuming,  for  a  moment,  to  contest  the  learned  professor's 
opinion,  which  is  unquestionably  founded  on  pre-eminent  knowledge  of 
this  branch  of  science,  I  am  still  disposed,  nevertheless,  to  rely  on  the 
credibility  of  Varthema,  and  to  believe  that  he  saw  at  Meccah  two  ordi- 
nary specimens  of  the  famous  unicorn,  an  animal  which  further  research 
in  the  unexplored  parts  of  Central  Africa,  or  among  the  mountains  of 
Thibet,  may  yet  bring  to  light. 

1  Varthema's  scale  of  measurements  was  probably  Venetian.  What 
it  was  in  his  time  I  have  not  ascertained.  The  modern  braccia  at  Venice 
varies  from  25.08  to  26.87  inches.     The  palmo  is  3.937  inches. 


thin  and  short  hair  which  hangs  on  one  side  ;  his  legs  are 
slender  and  lean  like  those  of  a  goat ;  the  foot  is  a  little 
cloven  in  the  fore  part,  and  long  and  goat-like,  and  there  are 
some  hairs  on  the  hind  part  of  the  said  legs.  Truly  this 
monster  must  be  a  very  fierce  and  solitary  animal.  These 
two  animals  were  presented  to  the  Sultan  of  Mecca  as  the 
finest  things  that  could  be  found  in  the  world  at  the  present 
day,  and  as  the  richest  treasure  ever  sent  by  a  king  of 
Ethiopia,  that  is,  by  a  Moorish  king.  He  made  this  present 
in  order  to  secure  an  alliance  with  the  said  Sultan  of  Mecca. 


I  must  here  show  how  the  human  intellect  manifests  itself 
under  certain  circumstances,  in  so  far  as  it  became  necessary 
for  me  to  exercise  it  in  order  to  escape  from  the  caravan  of 
Mecca.  Having  gone  to  make  some  purchases  for  my 
captain,  I  was  recognized  by  a  Moor  who  looked  me  in  the 
face  and  said  to  me  :  "  In  te  menaine  ?"  that  is,  "  Where  are 
you  from  ?"  I  answered  :  "  I  am  a  Moor."  He  replied  : 
"  In  te  chedeab,"  that  is,  "  You  are  not  telling  the  truth." 
I  said  to  him  :  "Orazalnabi  Aneymuz  lemma,"  that  is,  "By 
the  head  of  Mahomet,  I  am  a  Moor."  He  answered:  "Thale 
beithane,"  that  is,  "  Come  to  my  house ;"  and  I  went  with 
him.1  When  I  had  arrived  at  his  house,  he  spoke  to  me  in 
Italian,  and  told  me  where  I  had  come  from,  and  that  he 
knew  that  I  was  not  a  Moor,  and  he  told  me  that  he  had 

1  Anta  min  ain  ?     Where  are  you  from  ? 
Anta  kadh-dhdb.     You  are  a  liar. 

Wa-rds  en-Nabi  ana  Muslim.     By  the  head  of  the  Prophet,  I  am  a 

Tudl  ila  beitana.     Come  to  our  house. 


50  THE    TRAVELS    OF 

been  in  Genoa  and  in  Venice,  and  gave  me  proofs  of  it. 
When  I  heard  this,  I  told  him  that  I  was  a  Roman,  and  that 
I  had  become  a  Mameluke  at  Cairo.  When  he  heard  this 
he  was  much  pleased,  and  treated  me  with  very  great  honour, 
and  as  it  was  my  intention  to  proceed  further,  I  began  to  say 
to  him,  if  this  was  the  city  of  Mecca  which  was  so  renowned 
through  all  the  world,  where  were  the  jewels  and  spices,  and 
where  were  all  the  various  kinds  of  merchandize  which  it 
was  reported  were  brought  there.  I  asked  him  this  only 
that  he  might  tell  me  why  they  had  not  arrived  as  usual, 
and  in  order  not  to  ask  him  if  the  king  of  Portugal  was  the 
cause,  he  being  Lord  of  the  Mare  Occano  [the  Atlantic]  and 
of  the  Persian  and  Arabian  Gulfs.  Then  he  began  to  tell 
me  by  degrees  why  the  said  articles  had  not  come  as  they 
were  accustomed  to  do.  And  when  he  told  me  that  the  king 
of  Portugal  was  the  cause,  I  pretended  to  be  much  grieved, 
and  spoke  great  ill  of  the  said  king,  merely  that  he  might 
not  think  that  I  was  pleased  that  the  Christians  should  make 
such  a  journey.1  When  he  saw  that  I  displayed  hostility  to 
the  Christians,  he  showed  me  yet  greater  honour,  and  told 
me  everything  point  by  point.  And  when  I  was  well  in- 
formed, I  said  to  him  :  "  0,  my  friend,  I  beg  you,  Mena- 
hamena  lhabi,2  to  tell  me  some  mode  or  way  by  which  I  may 
escape  from  the  caravan,  because  my  intention  is  to  go  to  find 
those  beings  who  are  hostile  to  the  Christians  ;  for  I  assure 
you  that,  if  they  knew  what  I  am  capable  of,  they  would 
send  to  find  me  even  to  Mecca."  He  answered  me  :  "  By 
the  faith  of  our  prophet  what  can  you  do  ?"  I  answered 
him  that  I  was  the  most  skilful  maker  of  large  mortars  in 
the    world.      Hearing    this    he   said :    "  Mahomet  be  ever 

1  According  to  the  Kurrat  el-Ayun,  a  manuscript  History  of  Yemen 
in  my  possession,  the  Portuguese  had  seized  seven  native  ships  be- 
tween India  and  the  Persian  Gulf,  and  massacred  their  crews,  prior  to 
Varthema's  visit  to  Meccah.     See  note  on  p.  61. 

2  Probably  atmaannak  min  en-Nabi,  I  beseech  you  from  (or,  for  the 
sake  of,)  the  Prophet. 


praised,  who  has  sent  us  such  a  man  to  serve  the  Moors  and 
God."  So  he  concealed  me  in  his  house  with  his  wife. 
And  he  begged  me  that  I  would  induce  our  captain  to  drive 
out  from  Mecca  fifteen  camels  laden  with  spices,  and  this  he 
did  in  order  not  to  pay  thirty  seraphim  to  the  Sultan  for  the 
toll.  I  replied  that  if  he  would  save  me  in  this  house,  I 
would  enable  him  to  carry  off  a  hundred  camels  if  he  had 
so  many,  for  the  Mamelukes  have  this  privilege.  And  when 
he  heard  this  he  was  much  pleased.  Afterwards,  he  in- 
structed me  in  the  manner  in  which  I  should  conduct  my- 
self, and  directed  me  to  a  king  who  is  in  the  parts  of  India 
Major,  and  who  is  called  the  king  of  Deccan.  When  the 
time  comes  we  will  speak  of  that  king.  The  day  before 
the  caravan  set  out  he  concealed  me  in  his  house  in  a  secret 
place.  In  the  morning,  two  hours  before  day,  there  went 
through  the  city  a  great  quantity  of  instruments  and  trumpets, 
sounding  according  to  their  custom,  and  making  proclama- 
tion that  all  the  Mamelukes,  under  pain  of  death,  should 
mount  their  horses  and  commence  their  journey  towards 
Syria.  Whereupon,  my  heart  was  seized  with  a  great  per- 
turbation when  I  heard  this  proclamation,  and  I  earnestly 
recommended  myself  with  tears  to  the  wife  of  the  said  mer- 
chant, and  besought  God  that  he  would  save  me  from  such 
violence.  On  Tuesday  morning  the  said  caravan  departed, 
and  the  merchant  left  me  in  his  house  with  his  wife  ;  and 
he  went  with  the  caravan,  and  told  his  wife,  that  on  the 
following  Friday,  she  must  send  me  away  in  company  with 
the  caravan  of  India  which  was  going  to  Zida,  which  is  a 
port  of  Mecca,  forty  miles  distant.  I  cannot  express  the 
kindness  I  received  from  this  lady,  and  especially  from  her 
niece  of  fifteen  years  old,  they  promising  me  that,  if  I  would 
remain  there,  they  would  make  me  rich.  But  I  declined  all 
their  offers  on  account  of  the  present  danger.  When 
Friday  came,  I  set  out  with  the  caravan  at  noon,  to  the  no 
small  regret  of  the  said  ladies,  who  made  great  lamentations, 


52  THK   TRAVELS    OF 

and  at  midnight  we  arrived  at  a  certain  city  of  Arabia,  and 
remained  there  all  night  and  until  noon  of  the  following 
day.  On  Saturday  we  departed  and  travelled  until  mid- 
night, when  we  entered  into  the  said  port '  of  the  city  of 


This  city  is  not  surrounded  by  walls,  but  by  very  beautiful 
houses,  as  is  the  custom  in  Italy  ;  we  will,  therefore,  not 
dwell  long  on  a  description  of  it.2  It  is  a  city  of  very  ex- 
tensive traffic,  because  a  great  number  of  the  pagan  people 
come  here  ;  the  reason  being  that  neither  Christians  nor  Jews 
are  admitted.3  When  I  had  arrived  at  the  said  city  I  imme- 
diately entered  into  a  mosque,  that  is,  a  temple,  where  there 
were  at  least  25,000  poor  people,  and  I  hid  myself  in  a  corner 
of  the  said  temple,  and  remained  there  for  fourteen  days. 
All  day  long  I  remained  stretched  upon  the  ground  covered 
up  with  my  garments,  and  keeping  up  a  constant  groaning 

1  Jiddah,  or,  more  correctly,  Juddah, 

2  The  present  wall  which  surrounds  Juddah  on  the  land  side  was  built 
by  El-Ashraf  Kansooh  El-Ghoree,  the  Mameluke  Sultan  of  Egypt,  a.h. 
917,  or  thirteen  years  after  the  date  of  Varthema's  visit.  The  town  is 
superior  to  any  in  the  Hijaz  :  the  houses  are  well  built  of  stone  and 
madrepore,  and  consist  generally  of  two  stories. 

3  The  rule  which  excluded  all  but  Muhammedans  from  Juddah  has 
been  practically  rescinded  within  the  last  half  century,  and  there  are 
now  several  Christian  merchants,  chiefly  Greeks,  resident  in  the  town. 
Niebuhr  experienced  greater  civility  there  than  in  Egypt,  but  he  was 
warned  against  approaching  the  gate  leading  to  Meccah.  At  the  period 
of  Burckhardt's  visit  there  were  no  Christians  settled  in  Juddah,  but  a 
few  Greeks  from  the  islands  of  the  Archipelago  brought  merchandize  to 
the  market  from  Egypt.  He  says  :  "  In  the  time  of  the  Sherifs  they 
were  much  restricted,  compelled  to  wear  a  particular  dress,  and  prohi- 
bited from  approaching  the  Meccah  gate  ;  but  the  Turks,  having  become 
masters  of  the  Hijaz,  abolished  these  restrictions,  and  a  Christian  now 
enjoys  complete  liberty  there." 

LUD0V1C0    DI    VARTHEMA.  53 

as  though  I  were  suffering  intense  pain  in  my  stomach  aiftl 
body.  The  merchants  said:  "Who  is  that  who  is  lament- 
ing so  ?"  The  poor  people  who  were  near  me  said  :  "  It  is 
a  poor  Moor,  who  is  dying."  Every  evening  when  night 
came  I  quitted  the  mosque  and  went  to  buy  food.  I  leave 
you  to  judge  whether  or  no  I  had  an  appetite,  eating 
only  once  a  day,  and  that  very  badly.  This  city  is  governed 
by  the  lord  of  Cairo.  The  lord  of  it  is  one  who  is  a  brother 
of  Barachet,  that  is,  of  the  Saltan  of  Mecca.1  They  are  sub- 
ject to  the  Grand  Sultan  of  Cairo.  There  does  not  occur 
to  me  much  to  say  here,  for  they  are  Moors.  The  land  does 
not  produce  one  single  thing,  and  there  is  a  great  scarcity 
of  water,  that  is  to  say,  of  fresh  water.-  The  sea  beats 
against  the  walls  of  the  houses.3  All  sorts  of  necessaries  are 
found  here,  but  they  come  from  Cairo,  from  Arabia  Felix, 
and  from  other  places.  In  this  city  there  are  always  a  great 
number  of  sick  people,  and  they  say  that  this  is  in  consequence 
of  the  bad  air  of  the  place.  It  contains  about  five  hundred 
families.4    At  the  end  of  fourteen  days  I  made  an  agreement 

1  This  is  another  striking  proof  of  Varthema's  general  correctness. 
The  patronymic  of  the  ruling  Sherif  of  Meccah  at  the  time  was  Barakat, 
of  which  family  several  notices,  collected  from  Arabian  historians,  have 
already  been  given  in  the  Introduction. 

2  With  the  exception  of  a  few  palm-trees  near  one  of  the  mosques 
there  is  no  vegetation  of  any  kind  in  Juddah,  and  the  country  beyond  is 
a  barren  desert.  Rain  water  is  carefully  preserved  in  cisterns,  with 
which  many  of  the  houses  are  provided  ;  but  most  of  that  used  for  drink- 
iug  is  drawn  from  wells  about  one  mile  and  a  half  distant  on  the  south- 
ern side.  Water,  indeed,  may  be  found  everywhere  in  the  vicinity  at 
a  depth  of  a  few  feet  from  the  surface,  but  it  is  so  brackish  as  scarcely 
to  be  drinkable. 

3  Only  to  a  very  small  extent  now,  and  that  at  high  water,  or,  more  cor- 
rectly, according  to  the  winds,  by  which  the  tides  in  the  harbour  are  greatly 
influenced.  This  circumstance  seems  to  corroborate  Niebuhr's  opinion 
that  the  sea  had  gradually  receded  from  the  town:  the  combined  result, 
perhaps,  of  growing  coral-reefs  and  silt.     Voyage  en  Arable,  vol.  i.  p.  222. 

4  The  population  is  much  larger  now.  Ali  Bey  estimated  it  at  5,000, 
which  was  probably  an  exaggeration.  Burton,  on  the  authority  of  Mr. 
Cole,  H.M.  late  vice-consul  at  Jiddah,  states  ic  to  be  2,500,  but  thinks 
that  figure  too  low. 

54  THE    TRAVELS    OF 

with  the  master  of  a  vessel  which  was  going  towards  Persia, 
for  in  the  said  port  there  were  about  one  hundred  ships 
great  and  small.  Three  days  afterwards  we  set  sail,  and 
began  to  navigate  the  Red  Sea. 


It  will  be  understood  that  this  sea  is  not  red,  but  that  the 
water  is  like  that  of  any  other  sea.  In  this  sea  we  sailed 
one  day  until  the  setting  of  the  sun,  because  it  is  not  pos- 
sible to  navigate  it  during  the  night  time.  And  every  day 
they  proceeded  in  this  manner  until  they  arrived  at  an 
island  called  Chameram.1  After  this  island  you  can  proceed 
in  safety.  The  reason  why  it  is  not  possible  to  sail  during 
night  is,  that  there  are  many  islands  and  many  rocks,  and 
it  is  necessary  that  a  man  should  always  be  stationed  on  the 
top  of  the  mast  of  the  ship  in  order  to  see  the  route,  which 
cannot  be  done  during  the  night-time,  and  therefore  they 
can  only  navigate  during  the  day.2 

3  Camran,  generally  written  Camaran. 

3  The  same  precautions  are  still  taken  to  avoid  the  numerous  coral- 
reefs,  sunken  rocks,  and  dangerovis  patches,  which  exist  between  Leet, 
about  ninety  miles  to  the  south  of  Juddah,  and  the  island  of  Cainrau. 
The  navigation  below  the  latter  place  is  much  more  easy. 


THE       SECOND       BOOK 


Having  discoursed  of  the  places,  cities,  and  customs  of  the 
people  of  Arabia  Deserta,  as  far  as  it  was  permitted  me  to 
see  them,  it  appears  to  me  that  it  will  be  proper,  with  brevity 
and  more  happily,  to  enter  upon  Arabia  Felix.  At  the  end 
of  six  days  we  arrived  at  a  city  which  is  called  Gezan, 
which  city  has  a  very  fine  port ;  and  we  found  there  forty- 
five  vessels  belonging  to  different  countries.  This  city  is 
situated  on  the  sea  shore,  and  is  subject  to  a  Moorish  lord, 
and  is  a  district  very  fruitful  and  good,  like  Christian  coun- 
tries.     Here    there    are    very    good    grapes    and    peaches, 

1  Jeezan,  or  Gheeziin,  is  situated  in  a  fertile  district,  but  the  town  Las 
fallen  into  decay.  It  has  a  few  stone  buildings,  but  the  principal  part 
consists  of  grass  huts,  with  pyramidal  tops.  It  possesses  a  large  fort, 
in  a  ruinous  condition,  and  the  small  bazaar  is  now  scantily  supplied 
with  such  provisions  as  the  natives  use,  the  principal  of  which  is  the 
dhurah  (Varthema's  "  dora"),  a  species  of  millet,  extensively  culti- 
vated throughout  Yemen,  where  it  is  called  tadm.  There  is  a  good 
inner  anchorage  for  small  boats  off  the  town.  The  dress  of  the  male 
portion  of  the  population,  like  that  of  the  common  Arabs  of  the  country 
generally,  consists  of  a  cotton  cloth,  called  a  footah,  worn  round  the 
loins.  El-Edrisi  states  that  the  district  of  Jeezan  was  occupied  by  a 
family  of  the  famous  tribe  of  Ghassan  (the  Ghassanides,)  which  proba- 
bly became  extinct,  or  was  made  subject  by  the  Imams  of  Yemen,  during 
the  thirteenth  century  of  our  era.  Niebuhr,  Voyage  en  Arable,  vol.  iii.  p. 
232.     See  also  Moresby's  Sailing  Directions  for  the  Red  Sea,  pp.  27,  28. 

56  THE    TRAVELS    OF 

quinces,  pomegranates,  very  strong  garlic,  tolerable  onions, 
excellent  nuts,  melons,  roses,  flowers,  nectarines,  figs,  gourds, 
citrons,  lemons,  and  sour  oranges,  so  that  it  is  a  paradise. 
The  inhabitants  of  this  city  go  almost  naked,  and  live  after 
the  manner  of  the  Moors.  There  is  here  abundance  of  flesh, 
grain,  barley,  and  white  millet,  which  they  call  clora,  and 
which  makes  good  bread.  We  remained  here  three  days 
in  order  to  lay  in  provisions. 


Departing  from  the  said  city  Gezan,  we  went  for  five  days 
always  in  sight  of  land,  that  is  to  say,  the  land  was  on  our 
left  hand  ;  and  seeing  some  habitations  on  the  sea  shore,  we 
disembarked  fourteen  of  our  people  to  ask  for  some  provi- 
sions in  exchange  for  our  money.  They  answered  our  request 
by  beginning  to  throw  stones  at  us  with  slings,  and  these  were 
certain  people  who  are  called  Baduin  :  they  were  in  number 
more  than  one  hundred,  and  we  were  only  fourteen.  We 
fought  with  them  for  about  an  hour,  so  that  twenty-four  of 
them  remained  dead  on  the  field,  and  all  the  others  took  to 
flight;  for  they  were  naked,  and  had  no  other  arms  than  these 
slings.  We  took  all  that  we  could,  namely,  fowls,  calves, 
oxen,  and  other  things  fit  to  eat.  In  the  course  of  two  or  three 
hours  the  disturbance  began  to  increase,  as  did  also  the  inha- 

1  Bedouin,  or  more  correctly  Bedawin,  sing.  Bedawy.  From  the  col- 
lective Bedu,  properly  '  a  desert.'  Hence  the  literal  rendering  is 
'  desert-men  ;'  but  the  designation  is  frequently  applied  to  Arabs  who 
inhabit  the  open  country  in  contradistinction  to  those  who  dwell  in  towns. 
In  this  instance,  however,  Varthema  may  have  taken  the  term  from  the 
village  El-Bedawi,  there  being  one  of  that  name  midway  between  Jeezau 
and  Camran.  Another  locality  in  the  neighbourhood,  called  Khabt  el- 
Bakkar,  Niebuhr  describes  as  being  inhabited  by  some  wandering  fami- 
lies who  were  accused  of  plundering  all  travellers  who  came  in  their 
way.      Voyage  en  Arable,  vol.  iii.  p.  233. 


bitants  of  the  said  land,  so  that  they  were  more  than  six 
hundred,  and  we  were  obliged  to  withdraw  to  our  ship. 


On  that  same  day  we  took  our  course  towards  an  island 
called  Chamaram,  which  island  appears  to  be  ten  or  twelve 
miles  in  circumference,  where  there  is  a  place  containing 
about  two  hundred  families,  which  is  inhabited  by  Moors. 
In  this  said  island  there  is  sweet  fresh  water  and  flesh,  and  the 
best  salt  I  ever  saw  is  made  there.  It  has  a  port  towards 
the  mainland,  from  which  it  is  distant  about  eight  miles. 
This  island  is  subject  to  the  Sultan  of  the  Amanni,2  that  is, 
the  Sultan  of  Arabia  Felix,  and  we  remained  there  two 
days.  We  then  steered  towards  the  mouth  of  the  Red  Sea, 
and  for  two  days  you  can  navigate  in  safety  night  and  day, 
but  from  the  island  to  Zida  you  cannot  navigate  by  night. 
And  when  we  had  arrived  at  the  said  mouth,  it  really  ap- 

1  Camran  is  eleven  miles  long  and  from  two  to  four  broad.  There  are 
seven  villages  on  the  island,  consisting  mostly  of  huts  belonging  to  the 
fishermen  employed  on  the  neighbouring  pearl  banks  and  turtle  islands. 
Several  spots  are  under  cultivation,  good  water  is  plentiful,  and  other 
supplies,  such  as  oxen  and  sheep,  are  tolerably  abundant  ;  for  which 
reasons,  as  well  as  on  account  of  its  secure  harbour,  the  island  is  much 
frecpiented  by  native  vessels  trading  between  the  coasts  of  India  and 
Persia  and  the  Red  Sea. 

"  "  Soldano  delli  Amanni."     This  was  either  the  reigning  Imam  of 

Sanaa,  or  Sultan  'Amir  ibn  Abd  el-Wahhab.  The  latter,  about  this 
period,  was  contesting  the  sovereignty  of  Yemen  with  the  former,  and 
had  already  succeeded  in  wresting  from  him  a  large  portion  of  the 
southern  districts,  including  the  sea-board.  As  Varthema  does  not  men- 
tion the  term  "  Imam,"  the  ordinary  designation  of  the  rulers  at  Sanaa, 
and  which  he  must  frequently  have  heard  used,  I  apprehend  that  he 
misconstrued  the  title  into  the  name  of  a  country  or  people,  and  then 
Italianized  it,  distorting  "  Imam"  into  "  Amanni."  Or,  it  may  be  a 
contraction  and  corruption  of  [Amir  el-Mu~\amanin,  (Lord  of  the  Faith- 
ful,) another  title  common  to  all  the  Imams  of  Sanaa. 

58  THE    TRAVELS    OF 

pcarcd  as  though  we  were  within  a  hemmed-in  house  ;  for  that 
embouchure  is  about  two  or  three  miles  wide,  and  on  the  right 
hand  thereof  there  is  land  about  ten  paces  high  and  unin- 
habited, so  far  as  we  could  perceive  from  a  distance.  On 
the  left  hand  of  the  said  embouchure  there  is  a  very  high 
mountain,  and  it  is  of  stone  ;  and  in  the  middle  of  the  said 
embouchure  there  is  a  certain  little  uninhabited  island  which 
is  called  Bebmendo.1  Those  who  wish  to  go  to  Zeilla  take 
the  route  on  the  right  hand,  and  those  who  want  to  go  to 
Aden  take  that  on  the  left  hand ;  and  this  we  did  in  order 
to  go  to  Aden,  and  we  always  sailed  in  sight  of  land.  From 
the  said  Bebmendo  we  arrived  at  the  city  of  Aden  in  a  little 
less  than  two  days  and  a  half. 

1  The  narrowest  part  of  the  "  Little  Strait"  is  one  and  a  half  mile  wide. 
Varthema's  description  of  the  low  land  on  the  African  side,  and  the 
"  very  high  mountain"  on  the  Arabian  side,  (Bab  el-Mandeb  Cape,)  is 
remarkably  correct.  Native  craft  going  from  the  Red  Sea  to  Zeila,  or 
any  other  ports  on  the  former  coast,  still  take  the  right  or  wider  chan- 
nel ;  those  bound  for  Aden  the  left.  By  a  pardonable  misconception, 
however,  he  gives  the  name  of  the  two  Straits,  "Babmendo,"  (Bab  el- 
Mendeb)  to  the  small  island  which  forms  them,  and  which  will  be  re- 
cognized at  once  as  Perim,  called  by  the  natives,  Mayun. 

The  Arabs  have  a  tradition  respecting  the  formation  of  the  Straits  of 
Bab  el-Mandeb  which,  for  its  absurdity,  surpasses  very  many  of  their  ex- 
travagant legends.  I  quote  the  following  from  a  manuscript  in  my  pos- 
session, entitled  Tdrikh  Thaghr  'Aden  (a  History  of  the  Valley  of 
Aden),  written  by  the  learned  and  devout  Kadhi,  Aboo-Abdallah  bin 
Ahmed  Muhrirn.  He  says  :  "  Formerly  from  Kalzam  [the  Gulf  of 
Suez?]  to  Aden,  and  beyond  the  mountains  of  Socotra,  all  was  dry 
land  :  there  was  no  sea,  and  no  outlet ;  but  when  Alexander  the  Great, 
in  his  voyage  round  the  world,  came  here,  he  opened  a  gulf  wherein  the 
sea  flowed  until  it  was  arrested  near  the  mountains  of  Bab  el-Mandeb, 
whereby  Aden  was  surrounded  by  water,  and  nothing  was  visible  there 
but  the  tops  of  the  mountains  jutting  up  into  peaks Then  Alex- 
ander, (but  others  say,  some  other  person,)  cut  a  passage  through  Bab 
el-Mandeb,  whereby  the  water  rushed  in  and  filled  the  whole  of  El-Kal- 
zam.  When  the  rush  was  over,  Aden  rose  up,  and  the  waters  about  it 
were  drained  in  the  direction  of  Esh-Sham." 



Aden  is  the  strongest  city  that  was  ever  seen  on  level 
ground.  It  has  walls  on  two  sides,  and  on  the  other  sides 
there  are  very  large  mountains.  On  these  mountains  there 
are  five  castles,  and  the  land  is  level,  and  contains  about 
five  thousand  or  six  thousand  families.1  The  market  is  held 
at  two  o'clock  in  the  night,  on  account  of  the  intense  heat 
in  the  city  during  the  day.-  At  a  stone's  cast  from  this 
city  there  is  a  mountain,  upon  which  stands  a  castle,  and  at 
the  foot  of  this  mountain  the  ships  cast  anchor.3    This  city 

1  The  ruins  of  these  towers  still  exist,  also  of  the  two  walls,  one  of 
which  extended  along  the  shore  of  "  Front  Bay"  (which  appears  to  have 
been  the  principal  harbour  at  that  period),  and  the  other  over  the  heights 
commanding  Bandar  Hokkat,  now  called  Holket  Bay.  These  walls,  con- 
necting as  they  did  the  Mansuri  heights  on  the  north-east  with  the 
offshoots  of  the  lofty  Shamsan  range  on  the  south-west,  completely  en- 
closed the  area  where  the  town  of  Aden  is  situated,  and  which  seems  at 
one  time  to  have  been  the  crater  of  a  volcano,  forming  a  tolerably  per- 
fect circle  from  one  to  one  mile  and  a  half  in  diameter.  According  to 
the  Arabian  author  last  quoted,  most  of  these  fortifications  were  built  by 
'Othman  ez-Zenjily,  who  was  appointed  governor  of  that  district  by 
Tooran  Shah  bin  Ayyub,  brother  of  the  famous  Salah  ed-Din  (Saladin), 
Sultan  of  Egypt,  on  his  departure  from  Yemen  in  the  year  of  the  Hijrah 
571,  a.d.  1175.  Ez-Zenjily  erected  many  other  public  buildings  at 
Aden,  some  of  which  were  standing  when  the  British  captured  the 
place  in  1839 ;  but  his  rapacity  rendered  him  odious  to  the  in- 
habitants, and  on  hearing  of  the  approach  of  Taghtakin,  another 
brother  of  Salah  ed-Din,  who  was  sent  with  an  army  against  Yemen, 
a.  h.  579,  he  fled  from  Aden,  and  died  at  Damascus  four  years 

2  An  incidental  proof  that  Varthema  was  at  Aden  during  the  hot 
season,  which  lasts  from  May  to  October.  By  "  two  o'clock  in  the  night," 
I  understand  two  hours  after  sunset. 

3  The  mountain  here  mentioned  is  the  small  island  of  Seerah,  which 
has  lately  been  joined  to  Aden  by  a  causeway.  The  following  absurd 
tradition  respecting  this  spot  is  recorded  by  the  author  above  quoted  : 
"  Cain,  having  killed  his  brother  Abel,  and  being  afraid  of  his  father 
Adam,  fled  from  India  to  Aden,  and  took  up  his  abode  on  Seerah.  Be- 
coming sad  at  the  separation  from  his  home  and  relatives,  Satan  appeared 


is  extremely  beautiful,  and  the  capital  of  Arabia  Felix.  It 
is  the  rendezvous  for  all  the  ships  which  come  from 
India  Major  and  Minor,  from  Ethiopia  and  from  Persia. 
All  the  ships  which  are  bound  for  Mecca  put  in  here.  As 
soon  as  a  ship  comes  into  port,  the  officers  of  the  Sultan  of 
the  said  city  board  it,  and  desire  to  know  whence  it  comes, 
the  nature  of  its  cargo,  and  when  it  left  its  own  country,  and 
how  many  persons  there  arc  on  board.  And  when  they 
have  obtained  all  this  information,  they  remove  from  the 
said  ship  the  masts,  sails,  rudder,  and  anchors,  and  carry 
them  all  into  the  said  city ;  and  this  they  do  in  order  that 
the  said  persons  may  not  depart  without  paying  the  dues  to 
the  Sultan.1  The  second  day  after  my  arrival  in  the  said 
city  I  was  taken  and  put  in  irons,  and  this  occurred  through 
one  of  my  companions,  who  said  to  me  :  "  Christian  dog,  son 
of  a  dog."  Some  Moors  heard  this  speech,  and  through 
this  I  was  taken  with  great  violence  to  the  palace  of  the 
Vice-Sultan,  and  they  immediately  consulted  whether  they 
should  at  once  put  me  to  death,  because  the  Sultan  was  not 
in  the  city.  They  said  that  I  was  a  spy  of  the  Christians. 
But  as   the   Sultan  of  this  country  never  puts  any  one  to 

to  him,  and  presented  him  with  sundry  musical  instruments,  such  as  the 
lute,  with  which  he  managed  to  amuse  himself."  According  to  another 
tradition,  the  fire  of  the  day  of  judgment  is  to  spring  from  this  rock  ; 
and  the  same  author  states  that  a  well  existed  there  up  to  a  compara- 
tively recent  period,  from  the  bottom  of  which  flames  used  to  issue,  and 
that  the  end  of  a  rope,  let  down  by  way  of  experiment  in  the  presence 
of  many  witnesses,  was  found  to  be  burnt  on  being  drawn  up.  There  is 
nothing  improbable  in  this  story,  for  the  peninsula  of  Aden  is  undoubt- 
edly of  volcanic  origin,  and  the  same  igneous  agency  still  occasionally 
manifests  itself  among  the  Zebair  islands  in  the  Red  Sea,  and  on  the 
opposite  coast  of  Africa. 

The  Portuguese,  under  Lopez  Soarez  de  Albergaria,  occupied  the 
island  of  Seerah  in  1516,  and  during  their  short  stay  repaired  the  old 
fort  which  stood  on  its  summit,  and  further  strengthened  the  position 
by  enclosing  it  with  a  strong  wall,  the  remains  of  which  are  still  extant. 

1  This  is  a  common  custom  with  the  native  chiefs  on  the  Arabian 
shores  when  they  wish  to  detain  a  vessel. 


death,  these  people  respected  my  life,  and  kept  me  sixty-five 
days  with  eighteen  pounds'  weight  of  iron  on  my  feet.  On 
the  third  day  after  we  had  been  taken,  there  ran  to  the 
palace  forty  or  sixty  Moors,  belonging  to  two  or  three  ships 
which  had  been  captured  by  the  Portuguese,1  and  who  had 
escaped  by  swimming,  and  they  said  that  we  belonged  to 
these  Portuguese  ships,  and  that  we  had  come  there  as  spies. 
For  this  fancy  of  theirs  they  ran  to  the  palace  in  the  greatest 
fury,  with  arms  in  their  hands  to  slay  us  ;  but  through  the 
merciful  intervention  of  God,  those  who  guarded  us  fastened 
the  door  on  the  inner  side.  At  this  report  the  district  rose 
in  arms,  and  some  desired  that  we  should  die  and  some  not. 
At  last  the  Vice-Sultan  obtained  that  we  should  be  spared. 
At  the  end  of  sixty-five  days  the  Sultan  sent  for  us,  and  we 
were  both  taken  on  a  camel,  still,  however,  with  the  said 
irons  on  our  feet.  We  were  eight  days  on  the  road,  and 
were  then  presented  to  the  Sultan  at  a  city  called  Rhada. 
At  the  time  when  we  arrived  at  the  city  the  Sultan  was 
reviewing  eighty  thousand  men,  because  he  was  about  to  go 
to  war  with  another  Sultan  of  a  city  called  Sana,  which  is 
distant  from   Rhada  three  days'  journey.2     This   city  lies 

1  The  following  passage,  which  I  translate  from  the  Kurrat  el-Ay&n, 
confirms  this  statement:  "In  this  year  [a.h.  908=a.d.  1502,  about  one 
year  before  Varthema's  arrival  at  Aden],  the  ships  of  the  Sultan  of  the 
Franks  made  their  appearance  in  the  sea  between  India  and  the  island 
of  Hormuz.  They  seized  seven  vessels  and  murdered  most  of  the 

2  Radaa  is  situated  about  one  hundred  and  sixty  miles  north  of  Aden, 
and  sixty  to  the  south  of  Sanaa.  The  town  possesses  a  strong  citadel 
and  several  detached  forts,  now  in  a  very  ruinous  condition.  The  name 
in  full  is  Radaii  el-'Arsh. 

The  preparations  for  an  expedition  against  Sanaa,  incidentally  mentioned 
by  Varthema,  are  strikingly  corroborated  by  the  following  extract  from 
the  Kurrat  el-Ayun :  "  In  the  month  of  Safar  of  this  year  [a.h.  910  = 
a.d.  1503-4]  El-Meleh  Edh-Dhafir,  [The   Victorious  King,  the  surname 

given  to  'Amir  ibn  Abd  el-Wahhab,  the  then  reigning  Sultan  of  Aden 
and  southern  Yemen],  projected  an  attack  on  Sanaa,  and  made  pre- 
parations   accordingly.      To    that   end    he   despatched    several   of  his 

62  THE    TRAVELS    OF 

partly  on  an  acclivity  and  partly  on  the  plain,1  and  it  is  very 
beautiful  and  ancient,  populous  and  rich.  "When  we  were 
presented  before  the  Sultan  he  asked  me  whence  I  came.  I 
answered :  "Anabletrom  iasidi  anaigi  assalem  menel  Cayro 
anegi  Medinathalnaby  &  Mecca  &  badanigi  bledech  cul  ragel 
calem  inte  sidi  seich  hiasidi  ane  abdech  Inte  maarf  sidi  ane 
musolimim."  That  is,  the  Sultan  said  :  '  Whence  are  you 
and  what  do  you  purpose  doing  ?"  I  answered  :  "  that  I  was 
a  Roman,  that  I  had  become  a  Mameluke  at  Cairo,  that  I 
had  been  to  Medina,  to  Naby,  where  Mahomet  is  buried, 
and  to  Mecca,  and  that  then  I  had  come  to  see  his  High- 
ness ;  because  through  all  Syria,  and  at  Mecca,  and  at 
Medina,  it  was  said  that  he  was  a  saint,  and  if  he  was  a  saint, 
(as  I  believed),  he  must  know  that  I  was  not  a  spy  of  the 
Christians,  and  that  I  was  a   good   Moor   and  his  slave."2 

officers  to  the  Tihama  to  levy  a  force  from  among  the  Arabs,  and  in  the 
month  of  Rabiii  el-Akhir,  a  body  of  Arab  horsemen,  consisting  of  the 
Ziialiyyin,  the  Samiyyin,  the  Kahra,  the  Munasika,  the  Warnah,  the 
Lamiyyin,  the  Kaabiyyin,  the  Miiazibah,  and  the  'Arshiyyin,  proceeded 
to  the  seat  of  government.  And  in  the  same  month  our  lord  [the  Sultan] 
marched  towards  Sanaa,  stopping  for  some  days  at  Radaa  el-'Arsh,  from 
whence  he  went  to  Dhamar,  and  on  the  twenty-second  of  the  same  month 
to  Sanaa,  before  which  city  he  halted  with  a  very  large  army  and  many 
terrible  engines  of  war,  and  he  pressed  the  siege  until  the  date  herein- 
after mentioned."  It  seems  highly  probably  that  Varthema's  interview 
with  the  Sultan  at  Radaa,  occurred  during  the  short  stay  made  by  the 
latter  at  that  place  while  on  his  march  towards  Sanaa. 

1  The  passage  in  the  original  is  :  "  Et  e  questa  Citta  parte  in  costa, 
parte  in  piano."  As  the  town  of  Radaii  is  nearly  two  hundred  miles 
from  the  sea,  Varthema  undoubtedly  uses  the  word  "costa"  in  the  sense 
given  above,  which  is,  moreover,  locally  correct.  Dante  affixes  the  same 
signification  to  it  : — 

"  Lo  sommo  er'  alto,  che  vincea  la  vista, 
E  la  costa  superba  piu  assai 
Che  da  mezzo  cpuadrante  al  centro  lista." 

Del  Puroatorio,  Canto  iv. 

which  Boccacio  paraphrases  thus  :  "  L'  acclivita  di  essa  costa  rispetto  al 
piano  orizontale  era  assai  maggiore  di  45  gradi." 

2  Ana  \_min~\baldd  er-  Rilm,  ya  sidi.     Ana&ji  asallim  min  el-Kdhirah. 


Then  said  the  Sultan:  "Say,  Leila  ilala  Mahometh  resul- 
lala."1  But  I  could  not  pronounce  the  words  at  all,  whether 
such  were  the  will  of  God,  or  through  the  fear  which  had 
seized  me.  The  Sultan,  seeing  that  I  could  not  pronounce 
these  words,  commanded  that  I  should  be  thrown  into  prison 
and  kept  with  the  greatest  strictness  by  the  men  of  eighteen 
castles,  that  is,  four  for  each  castle.  They  remained  four 
days,  and  then  were  changed  for  four  others  from  four  other 
castles.  And  in  this  order  they  guarded  me  for  three 
months,  with  a  loaf  of  millet  in  the  morning  and  one  in  the 
evening,  although  six  of  these  loaves  would  not  have  suf- 
ficed me  for  one  day,  and  sometimes  I  should  have  been 
well  pleased  if  I  could  have  had  enough  water. 

Two  days  afterwards,  the  Sultan  took  the  field,  and 
marched  to  the  said  city  Sana  with  his  army,  in  which  there 
were  three  thousand  horsemen,  sons  of  Christians,  as  black 
as  Moors.     They  were  of  those  of  Prester  John,2  whom  they 

Ana  aji  Medinut-en-Nabi,  u-a-Meccah,  wa-hiiad  ana  aji  baladak.  Kid 
rajid  kallam  ;  Anta,  sidi,  sheikh.  Ya  sidi,  ana  abdak.  Anta  ma  tuaraf, 
sidi,  ana  Muslim  ?  "  I  am  of  the  country  of  Rum,  my  lord.  I  became 
a  Muhammedan  at  Cairo.  I  came  to  El-Medinah  of  the  Prophet,  to 
Meccah,  and  then  I  came  to  your  country.  Every  one  says,  sir,  you  are 
a  sheikh.  Sir,  I  am  your  slave.  Do  you  not  know,  sir,  that  I  am  a 
Mussulman  ?" 

1  La  Huh  ilia  Allah  ;  Muhammed  Rasdl  Allah.  "  There  is  no  god 
but  the  God  ;  Muhammed  is  the  Prophet  of  God." 

2  That  is,  Abyssinians,  "  Prester  John  "  being  the  fanciful  name  which 
the  Portuguese  had  given  to  the  Emperor  of  that  people  during  the 
preceding  century.  The  late  Professor  Lee,  in  a  note  on  the^  title  of 
"  Rasul"  {sent  or  commissioned),  which  Ibn  Batuta,  in  his  Travels,  says 
had  been  maintained  by  some  of  the  Sultans  of  Yemen  up  to  his  time  be- 
cause their  grandfather  was  so  called  when  commissioned  as  the  Emir  of 
Yemen  by  one  of  the  Khalifs  of  the  house  of  'Abbas,  remarks  as  fol- 
lows : — "  A  title  of  this  sort  seems  to  have  originated  the  Prester  John  of 
Abyssinia,  of  which  the  missionary  accounts  said  so  much.  A  Tartar  king 
seems  also  to  have  assumed  this  title,  which  in  Persian  was  translated 
Ferishta  Jan,  John  the  Angel,  probably  because  he  had  received  Christ- 
ianity. Hence  the  European  '  Prester  John  ;'  but  how  this  became 
ascribed  to  the  King  of  Abyssinia,  it  is  not  easy  to  say,  unless  he  had 


64  THE    TRAVELS    OF 

purchased  at  the  age  of  eight  or  nine  years,  and  had  them 
trained  to  arms.  These  constituted  his  own  guard,  because 
they  were  worth  more  than  all  the  rest  of  the  eighty  thou- 
sand. The  others  were  all  naked,  with  the  exception  of  a 
piece  of  linen  worn  like  a  mantle.  When  they  enter  into 
battle  they  use  a  kind  of  round  shield,  made  of  two  pieces  of 
cow  hide  or  ox  hide  fastened  together.  In  the  centre  of  the 
said  round  shields  there  are  four  rods,  which  keep  them 
straight.  These  shields  are  painted,  so  that  they  appear  to 
those  who  see  them  to  be  the  handsomest  and  best  that  could 
be  made.  They  are  about  as  large  as  the  bottom  of  a  tub, 
and  the  handle  consists  of  a  piece  of  wood  of  a  size  that  can 
be  grasped  by  the  hand,  fastened  by  two  nails.  They  also 
carry  in  their  hand  a  dart  and  a  short  and  broad  sword,  and 
wear  a  cloth  vest  of  red  or  some  other  colour  stuffed  with 
cotton,  which  protects  them  from  the  cold  and  also  from  their 
enemies.  They  make  use  of  this  when  they  go  out  to  fight. 
They  all  also  generally  carry  a  sling  for  the  purpose  of 
throwing  stones  wound  round  their  heads,  and  under  this 
sling  they  carry  a  piece  of  wood,  a  span  in  length,  which  is 
called  mesuech,  with  which  they  clean  their  teeth,1  and  gene- 
rally from  forty  or  fifty  years  downwards  they  wear  two 
horns  made  of  their  own  hair,  so  that  they  look  like  young 
kids.2     The  said  Sultan  also  takes  with  his  army  five  thou- 

assurned  the  title  mentioned  here  by  our  traveller  which  belonged  to  the 
King  of  Yemen."     Travels  of  Ibn  BatMa,  p.  54,  n. 

1  This  custom  still  prevails  throughout  Yemen.  The  Misivdk,  which 
is  generally  carried  about  the  head-dress,  is  made  from  the  branch  of  an 
indigenous  shrub,  the  wood  of  which  is  very  fibrous,  and  is  covered  with 
a  tough  spongy  bark,  about  an  inch  of  which  is  cut  off  in  order  to  allow 
the  enclosed  fibres  to  expand,  thereby  forming  the  tooth-brush.  The 
Indigo/era  pancifiora  is  applied  to  a  similar  purpose  in  Scinde  and  by 
the  Hindus  of  India. 

2  This  style  of  wearing  the  hair  is  peculiar,  I  believe,  to  some  of  the 
tribes  of  central  Yemen  ;  but  I  have  seen  a  similar  coiffure  among  the 
African  female  slaves  at  Zanzibar.  The  Arabs  nearer  the  coast,  generally 
bind  their  long  shaggy  hair  lightly  on  the  top  of  the  head,  leaving  the 
ends  to  form  a  large  waving  tuft. 


sand  camels  laden  with  tents,  all  of  cotton,  and  also  ropes  of 


Having  seen  this  army  depart,  let  us  return  to  my  prison. 
In  the  said  palace  of  the  city  there  was  one  of  the  three 
wives  of  the  Sultan,  who  remained  there  with  twelve  or 
thirteen  very  beautiful  damsels,  whose  colour  was  more  near 
to  black  than  otherwise.  This  queen  was  very  kind  to  me. 
I  and  my  companion  and  a  Moor,  being  all  three  in  prison 
here,  we  arranged  that  one  of  us  should  pretend  to  be  mad, 
in  order  the  better  to  assist  one  another.    Finally,  the  lot  fell 

1  It  is  remarkable  that  in  the  foregoing  account  of  the  weapons  borne 
by  the  Arabs  no  mention  is  made  of  fire-arms,  and  I  find  from  the 
Chronicles  of  the  Kurrat  el-Ayihi,  and  likewise  from  the  Ruiih  er-Ruah, 
another  MS.  in  my  possession,  that  they  were  not  generally  known  in 
Yemen  before  a.h.  921  =  a.d.  1515,  when  they  were  introduced  by 
the  Egyptian  expedition,  and  used  with  murderous  effect  on  the  inha- 
bitants of  the  coast  opposite  Camran,  which  island  they  had  previously 
seized  and  fortified.  A  year  later,  the  Egyptian  forces  were  joined  by  a 
Turkish  fleet  and  army  under  Suleiman  Pasha,  who  had  been  sent  by 
Sultan  Selim  to  cooperate  with  them  against  the  Portuguese  ;  for  the 
attack  made  on  Yemen  by  the  former  does  not  appear  to  have  been 
authorized  by  Kansooh  el-Ghoree,  the  then  reigning  sovereign  of  Egypt. 
The  following  is  a  description  given  by  the  author  of  the  Kurrat  el- 
Ay  An  of  the  Turkish  matchlock  : — "  The  soldiers  of  the  Lord  of  the  Room 
were  armed  with  musket-bows  with  which  they  took  aim.  It  is  a  most 
wonderful  weapon,  and  whoever  confronts  it  must  be  overcome.  It  is 
something  like  a  gun,  only  it  is  longer  and  thinner.  It  is  hollow,  and  in 
this  hollow  is  inserted  a  piece  of  lead  as  large  as  a  lote  berry,  and  it  is 
filled  with  powder,  and  then  discharged  by  means  of  a  match  at  the 
bottom  of  the  musket,  and  if  it  strikes  any  one  he  must  perish,  for  it 
goes  in  at  one  side  of  him  and  comes  out  at  the  other." 

Slings  as  well  as  bows  and  arrows  had  ceased  to  be  used  by  the  Arabs 
of  Yemen  as  far  back  as  Niebuhr's  time.  {Voyage  en  Arable,  vol.  iii.  p. 
187,  n.)  They  are  now  generally  armed  with  matchlocks  ;  those  who 
do  not  possess  that  weapon  carry  a  sword  or  spear  ;  but  all  are  provided 
with  thejanbeah,  or  curved  dirk,  worn  in  a  girdle  round  tie  waist. 


(;()  THE    TRAVELS    OF 

upon  me  to  be  mad.  Having  then  taken  this  enterprise 
upon  myself,  it  behoved  me  to  do  such  things  as  were  natu- 
ral to  madmen.  Truly,  I  never  found  myself  so  wearied  or 
so  exhausted  as  during  the  first  three  days  that  I  feigned 
madness.  The  reason  was  that  I  had  constantly  behind  me 
fifty  or  sixty  little  children,  who  threw  stones  at  me,  and  I 
threw  stones  at  them.  They  cried  out:  "  Iami  iasion  Iami 
ianun  ;"  that  is  to  say  :  "  Madman."1  And  I  had  my  shirt 
constantly  full  of  stones,  and  acted  like  a  madman.  The 
queen  was  always  at  her  window  with  her  damsels,  and  re- 
mained there  from  morning  till  evening  to  see  me  and  talk 
with  me  ;  and  I,  being  mocked  by  many  men  and  merchants, 
taking  off  my  shirt,  went,  quite  naked  as  I  was,  before  the 
queen,  who  took  the  greatest  delight  in  seeing  me,  and  would 
not  let  me  leave  her,  and  gave  me  good  and  sound  food  to 
eat,  so  that  I  gained  my  point.  She  also  said  to  me  :  "  Give 
it  to  those  beasts,  for  if  you  kill  them  it  will  be  their  own 
fault."  A  sheep  was  passing  through  the  king's  court,  the 
tail  of  which  weighed  forty  pounds.  I  seized  it  and  de- 
manded of  it  if  it  was  a  Moor,  or  a  Christian,  or,  in  truth,  a 
Jew  ;  and  repeating  these  words  to  it  and  many  others  I 
said  :  "  Prove  yourself  a  Moor  and  say  :  Leila  illala  Ma- 
hometh  resullala ;"  and  he,  standing  like  a  patient  animal 
which  could  not  speak,  I  took  a  stick  and  broke  all  its  four 
legs.  The  queen  stood  there  laughing,  and  afterwards  fed 
me  for  three  days  on  the  flesh  of  it,  than  which  I  do  not 
know  that  I  ever  ate  better.  Three  days  afterwards  I  killed, 
in  the  same  manner  as  I  had  killed  the  sheep,  an  ass  which 
was  carrying  water  to  the  palace,  because  he  would  not 
become  a  Moor.  Acting  in  the  same  manner  by  a  Jew,  I 
cudgelled  him  to  such  an  extent  that  I  left  him  for  dead. 
But  one  day,  being  about  to  act  in  my  usual  manner,  I  came 
across  one  of  those  who  had  me  in  custody,  and  who  was 
more  mad  than  I  was,  who  said  to  me  :  "  Christian  dog,  son 
1   Yamajrv&n!    Va  majw&n  !     Madman!    Madman  ! 

LUD0V1C0    DI    VAKTHEMA.  67 

of  a  dog."  I  threw  a  good  many  stones  at  him,  and  he 
began  to  turn  towards  me  with  all  the  children,  and  struck 
me  with  a  stone  in  the  breast  which  did  me  an  ill  service. 
I,  not  being  able  to  follow  him  on  account  of  the  irons  on 
my  feet,  took  the  way  to  my  prison  ;  but  before  I  reached 
it  he  struck  me  with  another  stone  in  the  side,  which  gave  me 
much  more  pain  than  the  first.  I  could  easily  have  avoided 
both  if  I  had  chosen  to  do  so,  but  I  chose  to  receive  them  to 
give  colour  to  my  madness.  And  therefore  I  immediately 
entered  my  prison  and  blocked  myself  in  with  very  large 
stones,  and  remained  there  two  days  and  two  nights  without 
eating  or  drinking.  The  queen  and  the  others  feared  that  I 
might  be  dead,  and  caused  the  door  to  be  broken  open,  and 
these  dogs  brought  me  some  pieces  of  marble,  saying:  "Eat, 
this  is  sugar  ;"  and  some  others  gave  me  grapes1  filled  with 
earth,  and  said  that  it  was  salt,  and  I  eat  the  marble  and  the 
grapes  and  everything,  all  together.  On  that  same  day, 
some  merchants  belonging  to  the  city  brought  two  men  who 
were  esteemed  amongst  them  as  two  hermits  would  be 
amongst  us,  and  who  dwelt  in  certain  mountains.  I  was 
shown  to  them,  and  the  merchants  asked  these  men-:  "  Whe- 
ther did  it  appear  to  them  that  I  was  holy  or  mad  ?"  One 
of  them  said  :  "  It  appears  to  me  that  he  is  holy ;"  the  other 
said  it  appeared  to  him  that  I  was  mad.  In  this  way  they 
kept  disputing  for  more  than  an  hour,  and  I,  in  order  to  get 
rid  of  them,  raised  my  shirt  and  p — d  over  them  both ; 
whereupon  they  began  to  run  away  crying  out :  "  Migenon 
migenon  suffi  maffis,"  that  is,  "  He  is  mad,  he  is  mad,  he 
is  not  holy."  The  queen  was  at  her  window  with  her 
maidens,  and  seeing  this  they  all  began  to  laugh,  saying  : 
"  O  achala  o  raza  al  Naby  ade  ragel  maphe  donia  metha- 
lon  ;"  that  is,  "  By  the  good  God,  by  the  head  of  Mahomet, 

1  Radaa  is  famous  for  its  grapes.     Most  of  those  which  are  sent  to 
the  Aden  market  come  from  that  district. 

F  2 

68  THE    TRAVELS    OF 

this  is  the  most  capital  fellow  in  the  world."1  The  next 
morning  I  found  asleep  him  who  had  given  me  the  two 
blows  with  the  stones.  I  seized  him  by  the  horns,2  and  put- 
ting my  knees  upon  the  pit  of  his  stomach,  gave  him  so 
many  blows  upon  the  face  that  he  was  covered  with  blood, 
and  I  left  him  for  dead.  The  queen  remained  standing  at 
her  window,  exclaiming  :  "  Kill  those  beasts."  The  govern 
nor  of  that  city,  discovering  through  many  circumstances 
that  my  companions  treacherously  wished  to  escape,  and  had 
made  a  hole  in  their  prison  and  removed  their  irons,  and 
that  I  had  not  done  so,  and  as  he  knew  that  the  queen  took 
great  pleasure  in  me,  he  would  not  do  me  any  injury  until 
he  had  spoken  with  her  ;  who,  when  she  had  heard  every- 
thing, considered  me  in  her  own  mind  to  be  rational,  and 
sent  for  me,  and  had  me  placed  in  a  lower  chamber  in  the 
palace  without  any  door,  but  still  with  the  irons  on  my  feet. 


The  first  night  ensuing,  the  queen  came  to  visit  me  with 
five  or  six  of  her  damsels,  and  began  to  examine  me,  and  I 
began  to  give  her  to  understand  by  degrees  that  I  was  not 
mad.  She,  being  a  clever  woman,  saw  that  I  was  not  at  all 
mad,  and  began  to  make  much  of  me  ;  ordered  a  good  bed 
after  their  fashion  to  be  given  me,  and  sent  me  plenty  of 
good  food.  The  following  day  she  had  prepared  for  me  a 
bath  according  to  their  custom,  with  many  perfumes,  and 
continued  these  caresses  for  twelve  days.  Afterwards,  she 
began  to  come  down  to  visit  me  every  night  at  three  or  four 
o'clock,  and  always  brought  me  good  things  to  eat.     Enter- 

1  Majnfin,  majniln  ;  sUfi  ma  fish.  He  is  a  niadinan  ;  he  is  not  intel- 
gent  (or  pious). 

WAttah,  xoa-ras en-Nabi \haclha  er-rajul  ma  fid-il&nya  mithlu.  J'>y  God, 
by  the  head  of  the  Prophet,  there  is  not  one  in  the  world  like  this  man. 

2  That  is,  l.y  the  tufts  of  his  hair. 


ing  where  I  was,  she  called  me  "  Iunus  tale  inte  iohan," 
that  is,  "  Lodovico,  come  here,  are  you  hungry  ?'n  And  I 
replied  :  "  E  vualla,"  that  is,  "  Yes,"2  for  the  hunger  which 
was  to  come  ;  and  I  rose  on  my  feet  and  went  to  her  in  my 
shirt.  And  she  said  :  "  Leis  leis  camis  foch,"  that  is,  "  Not 
in  that  manner,  take  off  your  shirt."3  I  replied  :  "  Iaseti 
ane  maomigenon  de  lain,"  which  is,  "  O,  madam,  I  am  not 
mad  now."4  She  answered  me  :  "  Vualla  ane  arfin  te  habe- 
denin  te  migenon  inte  mafdunia  metalon,"  that  is,  "ByGod, 
I  know  well  that  thou  never  wast  mad,  on  the  contrary,  that 
thou  art  the  best  witted  man  that  ever  was  seen."5  In  order 
to  please  her  I  took  off  my  shirt,  and  held  it  before  me  for 
modesty's  sake,  and  thus  she  kept  me  before  her  for  two 
hours,  contemplating  me  as  though  I  had  been  a  nymph, 
and  uttering  a  lamentation  to  God  in  this  manner  :  "  Ialla 
in  te  sta  cal  ade  abiat  me  telsamps  Inte  stacal  ane  auset  ; 
Ialla  Ianaby  iosane  assiet :  Villet  ane  asuet  ade  ragel  abiath 
Insalla  ade  ragel  Iosane  Insalla  oel  binth  mit  lade,"  that  is, 
"  O  God,  thou  hast  created  this  man  white  like  the  sun, 
thou  hast  created  my  husband  black,  my  son  also  is  black, 
and  I  am  black.  Would  to  God  that  this  man  were  my 
husband.  Would  to  God  that  I  might  have  a  son  like  this 
man."0    And  saying  these  words  she  wept  continually  and 

1  Yihias,  tiidl  ;  anta  ju\ln  ?     Jonah,  come  ;  are  you  hungry  ? 

2  Ay  vf  Allah,  a  common  expletive  affirmation. 

3  Leis  leis  kamisfok.     No,  no,  not  with  your  shirt  on. 

4  Ya  sitti,  ana  ma  majmln  Hun.     Madam,  I  am  not  mad  now. 

6  W Allah,  ana  ''aiiraf  anta  abadan  anta  majmfoi.  Anta  ma  fid- 
dunya  mithlak.  By  God,  I  know  that  you  were  never  mad.  There  is 
not  another  in  the  world  like  you. 

6  Ya  Allah!  Anta  khalakt  hddha  abyad  mithl  esh-sliams.  Anta 
khalaktani  ana  asivad.  Ya,  Allah  !  Ya  Nabi  !  zanji  aswad  :  waladi 
ana  aswad  :  hddha  er-rajul  abyad.  In- shda- Allah  hddha  er-rajid  zanji  ! 
In  shda-Allah  awallad  ibn  mithl  hddha.  0  God  !  Thou  hast  created 
this  [man]  white  like  the  sun.  Thou  hast  created  me  black.  0  God  ! 
0  Prophet  !  my  husband  is  black  ;  my  son  is  black  ;  this  man  is  white. 
Would  that  this  man  may  become  my  husband  !  Would  that  I  may 
bear  a  son  like  this  [man]  ! 


sighed,  passing  her  hands  over  mc  all  the  while,  and  pro- 
mising me  that,  as  soon  as  the  Sultan  returned,  she  would 
make  him  take  off  my  irons.  On  the  next  night  the  queen 
came  to  me  with  two  of  her  damsels  and  brought  me  some 
good  food  to  eat,  and  said  to  me  :  "  Tale  Iunus,"  that  is, 
"  Come  here,  Lodovico ;"  "  Ane  igi  andech,"  I  replied. 
"  Leis  setti  ane  mochaet  ich  no,"  that  is,  said  the  queen, 
"  Lodovico,  would  you  like  that  I  should  come  and  stay  a 
little  while  with  you."  I  answered  :  "  No  ;  that  it  was 
quite  enough  that  I  was  in  chains,  without  her  causing  me 
to  have  my  head  cut  off."  Then  said  she  :  "  Let  caffane 
darchi  alarazane,"  that  is,  "  Do  not  be  afraid,  for  I  will 
stake  my  own  head  for  your  safety."  "  In  cane  in  te  may- 
rith  ane  Gazella  in  sich  :  olla  Tegia  in  sich  olle  Galzerana 
insich,"  that  is,  "  If  you  do  not  wish  me  to  come,  shall  Ga- 
zella, or  Tegia,  or  Galzerana  come  Vn  She  only  said  this 
because  she  wished  to  come  herself  and  remain  with  me  in 
the  place  of  one  of  these  three.  But  I  never  would  consent, 
because  I  thought  of  this  from  the  time  when  she  began  to 
show  me  so  many  kindnesses.  Considering  also,  that  as  soon 
as  she  had  had  her  wish  she  would  have  given  me  gold  and 
silver,  horses  and  slaves,  and  whatever  I  had  desired.  And 
then  she  would  have  given  me  ten  black  slaves,  who  would 
have  been  a  guard  upon  me,  so  that  I  should  never  have 
been  able  to  escape  from  the  country,  for  all  Arabia  Felix 
was  informed  of  me,  that  is  to  say,  at  the  passes.  And  if  I 
had   once  ran   away,   I  could  not  have  escaped   death,   or 

1  Tiidl  Yilnas.  Come  hither,  Jonah.  Ana  aji  andah.  I  will  come 
to  you. 

Leis  \y(t~\  sitti  ;  ana  mukayyad,  jaJcfi.  No,  madam,  I  am  in  chains, 
and  that  is  enough. 

La  takhuf,  ana  taralii  \tla  rdsana.  Do  not  be  afraid  ;  I  take  all  the 
responsibility  on  my  head. 

In-knn  anta  ma  tarid  ana,  Gazelle  ansieh ;  wa-illa  Tujiah  ansieh  ; 
wa-illa  (iuherdna  ansieh.  If  you  do  not  want  me,  I  will  call  Gazelle  ; 
or  I  will  call  Tajiah  ;  or  I  will  call  Gulzenma  [for  you]. 


chains  for  life.  For  this  reason,  therefore,  I  never  would 
yield  to  her,  and  also  because  I  did  not  wish  to  lose  both 
my  soul  and  body.  1  wept  all  night,  recommending-  myself 
to  God.  Three  days  from  that  time  the  Sultan  returned, 
and  the  queen  immediately  sent  to  inform  me  that  if  I  would 
remain  with  her  she  would  make  me  rich.  1  replied  :  "That 
if  she  would  cause  my  chains  to  be  taken  off,  and  perform 
the  promise  she  made  to  God  and  Mahomet  I  would  then 
do  whatever  her  highness  wished.  She  immediately  had  me 
taken  before  the  Sultan,  who  asked  me  where  I  wished  to 
go  when  he  had  taken  off  my  chains.  I  answered  him  : 
"  Iasidi  habu  maris  una  mafis,  meret  maris  uuellet  mans, 
ochu  mafis  octa  mafis  alia  al  naby  Intebes  sidi  in  te  iati  iacul- 
ane  abdech,"  that  is,  "  O  lord,  I  have  no  father,  no  mother, 
no  wife.  I  have  no  children,  I  have  neither  brothers  nor 
sisters,  I  have  only  God,  and  the  Prophet,  and  you,  O  lord  : 
will  it  please  you  to  give  me  food,  for  I  wish  to  be  your 
slave  all  my  life  Vn  And  I  wept  constantly.  The  queen 
was  present  all  the  time,  and  said  to  the  Sultan  :  "  Thou 
wilt  have  to  render  an  account  to  God  of  this  poor  man, 
whom  without  any  cause  thou  hast  kept  so  long  in  chains. 
Beware  of  the  anger  of  God."  Said  the  Sultan  :  "  Well,  go 
wrhere  thou  wilt,  I  give  thee  thy  liberty."  And  immediately 
he  had  my  chains  taken  off,  and  T  knelt  before  him  and 
kissed  his  feet,  and  then  I  kissed  the  queen's  hand,  who 
took  me  also  by  the  hand  saying  :  "  Come  with  me,  poor 
fellow,  for  I  know  that  thou  art  dying  of  hunger."  When 
I  was  in  her  chamber  she  kissed  me  more  than  a  hundred 
times,  and  then  she  gave  me  many  good  things  to  eat.  But 
I  did  not  feel  any  inclination  to  eat,  for  I  had  seen  the 
queen  speak  privately  to  the  Sultan,  and  I  thought  that  she 

1  Ya  sidi,  abb  ma  fish ;  umm  ma  fish  ;  marat  ma  fish  ;  waladma/ish; 
akh  ma  fish;  okht  ma  fish.  Allah,  en-JS/abi,  anta,  bas,  sidi.  Anta 
taatini  akul,  ana  abdak.  0  lord,  I  have  no  father,  no  mother,  no  wife, 
no  child,  no  brother,  no  sister.  God,  the  Prophet,  [and]  you  only.  You 
give  me  food  to  eat,  and  I  am  your  slave. 

72  THE    TRAVELS    OF 

had  asked  me  of  the  Sultan  for  a  slave.  Wherefore  I  said  to 
the  queen:  "I  will  not  eat  unless  you  promise  to  give  me  my 
liberty."  She  replied  :  "  Scut  mi  Ianu  inte  maarfesiati  alia," 
that  is,  "  Hold  thy  peace,  madman,  thou  dostnot  know  what 
God  has  ordained  for  thee."  "Incane  inte  milie  inte  amirra," 
that  is,  "  If  thou  wilt  be  good  thou  shalt  be  a  lord."1  Now, 
I  knew  the  kind  of  lordship  she  wished  to  confer  upon  me  ; 
but  I  answered  her  that  she  should  let  me  get  a  little  fatter, 
and  get  back  my  blood,  for  the  great  fear  I  was  in  filled  my 
breast  with  other  thoughts  than  those  of  love.  She  answered: 
"  Vuulla  inte  calem  milie  ane  iaticullion  beit  e  digege  e  amani 
c  filfil  e  cherfa  e  gronfili  e  iosindi,"  that  is,  "  By  God,  thou 
art  right,  but  T  will  give  thee  every  day  eggs,  hens,  pigeons, 
pepper,  cinnamon,  cloves,  and  nutmegs."2  Then  I  recovered 
my  spirits  somewhat  at  the  good  words  and  promises  she 
gave  me.  In  order  the  better  to  restore  me,  I  remained 
fifteen  or  twenty  days  in  her  palace.  One  day  she  sent  for 
me  and  asked  me  if  I  would  go  hunting  with  her.  I  replied 
in  the  affirmative  and  went  with  her.  On  our  return  I  pre- 
tended to  fall  sick  from  weakness,  and  remained  in  this 
feigned  state  eight  days,  while  she  continually  sent  persons 

1  Ashut,  majnftn  ;  anta  ma  tiiaraf  aish  jd'ati  Allah.  Silence,  rnadman ; 
you  do  not  know  what  God  will  give. 

In-hdn  anta  malieh,  anta  amir.  If  you  are  good,  you  [shall  be]  an 

2  W Allah,  anta  titkdllam  malieh  :  ana  ''aiitilc  kuljom  baidh,  wa-dujdj, 
wa-hamdm,"wa-filjil,  wa-kirfah,  wa-karanful,  wa-juz- Hindi.  By  God, 
you  say  well  :  I  will  give  you  every  day  eggs,  fowls,  pigeons,  pepper, 
cinnamon,  cloves,  and  cocoa-nuts.  The  spices  named  are  in  common  use 
among  the  Arabs.  It  is  not  surprising  that  Varthema  should  have  mis- 
taken Joz-Ilindi  for  nutmeg ;  the  word  is  so  misapplied  still  by  the 
common  Maltese  and  other  Franks  in  Syria  and  Egypt.  Ibn  Batiita's 
description  of  the  cocoa-nut  is  quaint.  He  says  :  "  It  is  like  a  man's 
head  ;  for  it  has  something  like  two  eyes  and  a  mouth,  and  when  green 
is  like  brains,  and  its  properties  are,  to  nourish  and  quickly  to  fatten  the 
body,  to  make  the  face  red,  and  greatly  to  stimulate  to  venery."  And 
in  a  subsequent  chapter  he  more  broadly  than  modestly  describes  the 
effect  of  the  incentive  on  himself.     Lee's  Translation,  pp.  G0,17G. 


to  visit  me.  One  day  I  sent  to  inform  her  that  I  had  made 
a  promise  to  God  and  to  Mahomet  that  I  would  visit  a  holy 
man  who  was  in  Aden,  and  who,  they  said,  performed 
miracles  ;  and  I  maintained  that  it  was  true  in  order  to 
accomplish  my  object.  She  sent  to  tell  me  that  she  was  well 
pleased,  and  ordered  a  camel  and  twenty-five  seraphim  of 
gold  to  be  given  to  me,  whereat  I  was  much  rejoiced.  The 
following  day  I  mounted  and  went  to  Aden  in  eight  days, 
and  immediately  visited  the  holy  man,  who  was  worshiped 
because  he  always  lived  in  poverty  and  chastity,  and  spent 
his  life  like  a  hermit.  And,  truly,  there  are  many  in  that 
country  who  pass  this  kind  of  life,  but  they  are  deceived 
from  not  having  been  baptised.1  When  I  had  performed 
my  devotions  on  the  second  day,  I  pretended  to  be  cured  by 
virtue  of  that  holy  man.  Afterwards  I  wrote  to  the  queen, 
that  by  the  virtue  of  God  and  of  that  holy  man  I  was  cured, 
and  since  God  had  been  so  merciful  to  me  I  wished  to  go 
and  see  the  whole  of  her  kingdom.  This  I  did  because  the 
fleet  was  in  that  place,  and  could  not  depart  for  a  month.  I 
spoke  secretly  with  the  captain  of  a  ship,  and  told  him  that 
I  wished  to  go  to  India,  and  if  he  would  take  me  I  would 
give  him  a  handsome  present.  He  replied  :  "  That  before 
he  went  to  India  he  wished  to  touch  at  Persia."  With  that 
I  was  satisfied,  and  so  we  agreed. 


The  following  day  I  rode  for  fifteen  miles,  and  found  a 
city  which  is  called  Lagi  ;a  the  place  is  level  and  very  popu- 

1  According  to  contemporaneous  Arabian  historians,  Yemen  teemed 
with  such  devotees  at  the  period  referred  to.  The  fashion,  or  piety,  has 
considerably  decreased  within  the  last  two  centuries. 

2  Lahej,  the  place  indicated,    is  about  thirty  miles  to  the  north-west 

7  t  THE    TRAVELS    OF 

lous.  A  vast  number  of  date-trees  grow  here,  there  is  also 
plenty  of  animal  food  and  grain  as  with  us.  But  there  are 
no  grapes  here,  and  a  great  scarcity  of  firewood.  This  city 
is  uncivilized,  and  the  inhabitants  are  Arab's,  who  are  not 
very  rich.  I  departed  thence  and  went  to  another  city, 
which  is  one  day's  journey  from  the  first  mentioned,  and  is 
called  Aiaz.1  It  stands  upon  two  mountains,  between  which 
there  is  a  very  beautiful  valley  and  a  beautiful  fountain,  in 
which  valley  the  market  is  held  to  which  the  men  come 
from  both  the  mountains.  And  very  few  of  those  markets 
are  held  without  quarrels  taking  place.  The  reason  is  this  : 
those  who  inhabit  the  mountain  towards  the  north  wish  that 
those  who  inhabit  the  mountain  towards  the  south  should 
believe  with  them  in  Mahomet  with  all  his  companions ; 
while  these  will  only  believe  in  Mahomet  and  Ali,  and  say 
that  the  other  captains  are  false.     For  this  reason  they  kill 

of  Aden.  The  name,  though  frequently  applied  to  the  town,  designates 
more  correctly  the  surrounding  district,  the  former  being  generally 
called  El-Hawtah  by  the  Arabs,  signifying  a  level  spot.  It  is  situated 
in  a  fertile  plain,  and  is  watered  by  the  torrents  which  periodically 
descend  from  the  mountains  in  its  rear.  The  country  is  well  cultivated 
and  produces  abundance  of  dhurah,  sesamum,  several  kinds  of  pulse, 
and  a  small  quantity  of  cotton,  besides  various  culinary  vegetables.  It 
also  affords  good  pasturage,  and  supplies  the  Aden  market  with  excel- 
lent cows,  sheep,  and  goats.  It  raises  very  little  fruit,  and,  as  Varthema 
remarks,  no  grapes  grow  there.  At  the  period  of  his  visit,  Lahej  was 
under  the  government  of  Sultan  'Amir  ibn  Abd  el-Wahhab,  who  ruled 
over  the  greater  part  of  southern  Yemen.  On  his  death,  a.d.  1517,  it 
reverted  to  the  Imam  of  Sanaa,  and  continued  under  that  jurisdiction, 
though  not  without  frequent  intervals  of  independence,  till  the  year 
1728,  when  the  chief  of  the  Abdali  tribe  inhabiting  the  district  threw  off 
his  allegiance  to  the  Imam,  and  subsequently  succeeded  in  capturing 
Aden.  His  successors  in  the  same  family  retained  the  government  of 
both  places  until  dispossessed  of  the  latter  by  the  British  in  1839. 

1  I  presume  this  to  be  the  "Asas,"  or,  according  to  his  Arabic  ortho- 
graphy, the  "  'Az'az,"  of  Niebuhr,  which  he  describes  as  a  village  on  the 
confines  of  the  domain  belonging  to  Aden.  As  I  have  not  met  with  the 
name  in  any  of  the  Arabian  authors  within  reach,  I  conclude  it  is  a  place 
of  little  note. 


each  other  like  dogs.1  Let  us  return  to  the  market,  to  which 
are  brought  many  kinds  of  small  spices,  and  a  great  quantity 
of  stuffs,  of  wool,  and  of  silk,  and  very  excellent  fruits,  such 
as  peaches,  pomegranates,  and  quinces,  figs,  nuts,  and  good 
grapes.  You  must  know  that  on  each  of  these  mountains 
there  is  a  very  strong  fortress.  Having  beheld  these  things  I 
departed  thence  and  went  to  another  city,  which  is  distant 
from  this  two  days'  journey  and  is  called  Dante,2  and  is  an 
extremely  strong  city,  situated  on  the  top  of  a  very  great 
mountain,  and  is  inhabited  by  Arabs,  who  are  poor,  because 
the  country  is  very  barren. 


In  order  to  follow  out  the  desires  after  novel  things  already 
conceived  in  our  minds  we  departed  from  that  place,  taking 
our  way  towards  another  city,  distant  two  days'  journey, 
which  is  called  Almacarana,3  and  is  situated  on  the  top  of  a 

1  That  is,  the  northerners  were  Sunnis,  and  the  southerners  Skids,  or 
more  probably  Zaidis,  the  followers  of  Zaid,  son  of  Ali,  surnarned  Zain 
el-'Abidin,  which  sect  was  very  numerous  in  Yemen,  and  comprised  the 
person  and  family  of  the  Imam.  They  held  with  the  Shiiis  that  Ali  was 
unjustly  superseded  in  the  Khalifate  by  Abubekr,  'Omar,  and  'Othman, 
and  are  represented  as  having  no  respect  for  the  Twelve  Imams,  and  for 
omitting  all  mention  of  the  saints  in  their  devotions.  These  were  the 
more  salient  points  of  antagonism  between  them  and  the  Sunnis,  which 
frequently  led  to  bloody  feuds.  There  were  other  differences  of  a  more 
abstruse  character  respecting  the  Divine  decrees,  free  will,  and  human 
responsibility.  (See  Sale's  Preliminary  Discourse  to  the  Koran,  p.  233, 
Niebchr,  Voy.  en  Arable,  vol.  iii.  pp.  17,  18,  and  D'IIerbelot,  sub 
voce  Zeidiah,  vol.  iii.  p.  734.) 

a  More  correctly  Damt.  Niebuhr's  orthography  is  worse  than  Var- 
thema's  :  he  writes  it  "  Dimne,"  and  describes  it  as  a  "  bourg  a  foire  au 
sud  de  mont  Maharras,"  which  mountain  he  says  is  very  high  and  steep. 
It  appears  to  have  been  an  important  stronghold,  and  will  be  found 
mentioned  in  the  succeeding  note. 

3  El-Makranah.     It  is  surprising  that  Niebuhr  has  not  enumerated 

76  TI1K    TRAVELS    OF 

mountain,  the  ascent  to  which  is  seven  miles,  and  to  which 
only  two  persons  can  go  abreast  on  account  of  the  narrow- 
ness of  the  path.  The  city  is  level  on  the  top  of  the  moun- 
tain, and  is  very  beautiful  and  good.  Food  enough  for  the 
whole  city  is  collected  here,  and  for  this  reason  it  appears 
to  me  to  be  the  strongest  city  in  the  world.  There  is  no 
want  of  water  there  nor  of  any  other  necessary  of  life,  and, 
above  all,  there  is  a  cistern  there  which  would  supply  water 

this  place  in  his  list  of  the  towns  and  villages  of  Yemen.  Arabs  who 
have  come  to  Aden  from  that  and  the  adjoining  districts  have  frequently 
dilated  on  the  by-gone  impregnability  of  its  castle,  and  the  extent  of  its 
great  reservoir.  The  following  extract,  also,  from  the  Ruuh  er-Ruah, 
recording  the  capture  of  the  place  from  Sultan  'Amir  ibn  Abd  el-Wahhab 
by  the  Egyptian  army,  strikingly  corroborates  several  details  contained 
in  this  chapter  : — "  Then  the  Ameer  Bar-Sabbai  [the  Egyptian  com- 
mander] deputed  the  Ameer  Akbai  over  the  affairs  of  Ta'ez,  and  went 
himself  with  his  army  towards  El-Makranah.  On  hearing  this,  Sultan 
Amir  hastened  to  the  place,  and  took  from  thence  his  women  [or  wives], 
and  as  much  treasure  as  he  could  conveniently  remove,  and  departed 
towards  El-Halkah,  where  he  remained.  Immediately  after,  the  Egyp- 
tian army  entered  El-Makranah  and  plundered  it,  taking  therefrom  the 
immense  stores  of  wealth  and  provisions  which  it  contained,  and  forcing 
some  of  the  people  to  surrender  the  valuables  which  'Amir  had  deposited 
with  them."  Subsequently,  a  Fakih  named  'Amr  el-Jabraty,  who  had 
acted  as  jester  to  the  Sultan,  disclosed  to  the  Egyptian  commander  some 
treasures  which  were  hidden  in  the  castle,  consisting  of  a  vast  amount 
of  specie,  jewels,  and  other  valuables  belonging  to  the  royal  family,  all 
of  which  the  captor  seized  and  distributed  among  his  soldiers. 

Notwithstanding  this  spoliation,  however,  El-Makranah  was  not  plun- 
dered of  all  its  wealth.  Twelve  years  later,  after  the  Imam  had  suc- 
ceeded in  expelling  the  Egyptians  from  Saniia,  his  son  Mutahhir  attacked 
them  at  El-Makranah  and  Damt,  and  carried  away  considerable  booty. 
The  following  narration  of  that  event  is  from  the  author  above  quoted  : 
— "  Then  Mutahhir  proceeded  to  take  Malikiah  and  all  the  intervening 
strongholds  as  far  as  Damt,  which  castle  he  captured,  and  proclaimed  an 
amnesty  to  the  inhabitants.  Next  he  entered  El-Makranah,  granting  an 
amnesty  to  the  Circassian  [MamlOk]  garrison,  and  receiving  the  sub- 
mission of  the  tribes.  He  then  took  all  the  arms  and  guns  which  he 
found  there  ;  also  many  copper  utensils  of  (Jhassdni  manufacture  inlaid 
with  silver,  and  costly  China  ware,  which  had  belonged  to  the  Beni 
Dhahir"  [the  Sultan's  family]. 

LTJD0V1C0    DI    VARTHEMA.  77 

for  100,000  persons.  The  Sultan  keeps  all  his  treasure  in 
this  city,  because  he  derives  his  origin  and  descent  from  it. 
For  this  reason  the  Sultan  always  keeps  one  of  his  wives 
here.  You  must  know  that  articles  of  every  possible  kind 
are  brought  here,  and  it  has  the  best  air  of  any  place  in  the 
world.  The  inhabitants  are  more  white  than  any  other 
colour.  In  this  city  the  Sultan  keeps  more  gold  than  a 
hundred  camels  could  carry,  and  I  say  this  because  I  have 
seen  it. 




When  I  had  rambled  about  the  above-mentioned  city,  on 
parting  thence  I  went  to  another  place,  distant  from  this  one 
day's  journey,  which  is  called  Keame,1  and  is  for  the  most 
part  inhabited  by  black  people,  who  are  very  great  mer- 
chants. This  country  is  extremely  fertile,  excepting  in  fire- 
wood, and  the  city  contains  about  two  thousand  families. 
On  one  side  of  this  city  there  is  a  mountain,  upon  which 
stands  a  very  strong  castle.  And  here  there  is  a  kind  of 
sheep,  some  of  which  1  have  seen,  whose  tails  alone  weigh 
forty-four  pounds.  They  have  no  horns,  and  cannot  walk 
on  account  of  their  size.2  Here  also  is  found  a  kind  of  white 

1  This  is  undoubtedly  Yerim,  which  Niebuhr  describes  as  "  une  petite 
ville  mal  biitie,  munie  d'une  forteresse  sur  un  rocher  escarpe  ;  et  situee 
dans  une  plaine  assez  vaste,  et  a  4  lieues  d'Allemagne  de  Damar  ;" 
nevertheless  it  was  the  residence  of  a  Dowla,  or  governor,  of  the  Imam. 
He  adds,  that  as  the  name  of  this  town  resembles  that  of  the  famous 
garden  of  Irem  mentioned  in  the  89th  chapter  of  the  Koran,  it  is  inferred 
by  some  that  the  terrestrial  paradise  stood  in  this  region  ;  but  having 
himself  travelled  through  the  district,  he  considers  that  it  is  less  fertile 
than  many  others  in  Yemen.  It  was  at  Yerim  that  one  of  his  com- 
panions, the  lamented  Forskal,  died  on  the  11th  of  July  1763,  just  a 
century  ago.  Niebuhr  gives  a  view  of  the  town  in  vol.  i.  of  his  Voyage 
en  Arable. 

a  This  is  generally  a  correct  description,  though  I  cannot  vouch  for 
the  weight  ascribed  to  the  sheep's  tails. 

78  THE    TRAVELS    OF 

grape,  which  has  no  seeds  within,  than  which  I  never  tasted 
better.1  Here  also  I  found  all  kinds  of  fruit  as  I  said  above. 
The  climate  here  is  most  perfect  and  singular.  In  this  place 
I  conversed  with  many  persons  who  were  more  than  one 
hundred  and  twenty-five  years  old,  and  were  still  very 
healthy.  The  people  here  go  more  naked  than  otherwise, 
but  the  men  of  good  condition  wear  a  shirt.  The  lower 
orders  wear  half  a  sheet  crosswise,  after  the  fashion  of 
prelates.2  Through  the  whole  of  this  Arabia  Felix  the  men 
wear  horns  made  of  their  own  hair,  and  the  women  wear 
loose  trowsers,  after  the  fashion  of  seamen. 




Then  I  departed  and  took  to  a  city  named  Sana,3  which  is 
distant  from  the  said  city  Reame  three  days'  journey.     It  is 

1  These  grapes  are  brought  to  Aden  during  the  season  in  small  baskets 
covered  with  wild  sage.  They  resemble  the  sultanas  which  are  imported 
from  Smyrna. 

2  The  original  is  :  Li  altri  di  bassa  conditione  portano  mezo  un  linzolo 
ad  armacolla  a  la  apostolicha,  the  sense  of  which  is  very  obscure.  Per- 
haps it  means  that  the  cloth  in  question,  which  is  oblong  in  shape,  is 
worn  like  a  pallium  or  a  stole,  sometimes  thrown  loosely  round  the  neck, 
and  sometimes  over  one  shoulder,  which  is  precisely  the  case.  In  addi- 
tion to  this,  however,  they  generally  wear  a  similar  cloth  round  the  loins. 
The  uses  of  these  simple  garments  are  thus  correctly  described  by 
Niebuhr  : — "  En  deployant  sa  large  ceinture  il  a  vin  matelas,  avec  le 
lingo  d'epaule  il  couvre  le  corps  et  la  tete,  et  e'est  entre  ces  draps  qu'il 
dort  nud  et  content."     Voyage  en  Arable,  vol.  iii.  p.  56. 

3  Sanaa,  the  capital  of  Yemen  and  the  residence  of  the  Imam,  is  situ- 
ated at  the  foot  of  a  high  range  of  mountains  called  Jebal  Nikam.  With 
this  exception,  Varthema's  notes,  which  are  unusually  brief  on  the  sub- 
ject, are  generally  correct.  Edrisi  describes  it  as  "  abounding  in  good 
things,  and  full  of  buildings.  It  is  the  oldest,  the  largest,  and  most 
populous  city  of  Yemen.  It  is  in  the  centre  of  the  first  climate,  has  an 
even  atmosphere,  a  fertile  soil,  and  the  heat  and  cold  there  are  always 


situated  on  the  top  of  a  very  large  mountain,  and  is  ex- 
tremely strong.  The  Sultan  encamped  before  with  80,000 
men  for  eight  months  in  order  to  capture  it,  but  could 
only  gain  it  by  capitulation.1  The  walls  of  this  city  are 
of  earth,   of  the   height    of  ten    braza,    and  twenty   braza 

temperate."  Ibn  Batuta  merely  says  "  it  is  a  large  and  well-built  city." 
The  Rev.  Mr.  Stern,  who  visited  Sanaa  in  1856,  estimates  the  population 
at  about  40,000  inhabitants,  of  whom  20,000  are  Muhammedans,  and 
18,000  Jews.  Niebuhr  gives  a  plan  and  a  detailed  description  of  the 
city  in  his  Voyage  en  Arable,  vol.  i.  pp.  326-329. 

'  He  should  have  said  that  the  Sultan  had  utterly  failed  in  capturing 
the  place.  The  circumstances  of  the  attempt  referred  to,  which  occurred 
two  years  before  Varthema's  visit,  are  thus  narrated  by  the  author  of  the 
Kurrat  el- Ay  An  : — "During  this  year  [a.h.  907:=  a. d.  1501]  Sultan 
'Amir  besieged  Sanaa,  and  when  the  inhabitants  were  reduced  to  great 
straits,  they  wrote  to  Bahal,  offering  him  certain  presents,  together 
with  the  fortress  of  Dhamarmar,  if  he  would  come  to  their  assistance. 
(Before  their  arrival,  the  Zaidieh  [Zaidis]  abandoned  the  side  of  the 
Sultan.)  They  accordingly  came  in  vast  numbers,  and  a  severe  battle 
was  fought  between  them  and  the  Amir  'Ali  el-Blladaui,  [one  of  the  Sul- 
tan's generals,]  in  which  neither  party  gained  the  advantage.  Eventually, 
however,  the  Ameer's  soldiers  were  overpowered  ;  whereupon  the  Sultan 
collected  all  his  forces,  which  were  dispersed  around  Sanaa,  and  formed 
them  into  one  camp,  in  consequence  of  which  movement  the  enemy  were 
able  to  stop  the  road,  and  to  cut  off  all  his  supplies.  The  Sultan  then 
decided  to  return  homewards,  and  to  fall  on  the  Zaidis  who  had  gathered 
in  strength  to  circumvent  him  ;  but  God  came  to  his  relief.  [Here,  a 
different  hand,  probably  a  Zaidi,  has  added  these  words  to  the  MS., '  had 
he  remained  he  would  have  been  caught.']  The  Sultan,  having  collected 
his  troops  and  equipage,  retired  from  before  Sanai  on  the  7th  of  Muhar- 
ram,  a.h.  90S,  followed  by  the  Zaidis  who  harassed  his  rear  ;  but  his 
soldiers  charged  them  like  'An tar  aud  attacked  them  like  'Omar,  and  put 
them  to  an  ignominious  flight.  Finally,  he  reached  Dhamarmar  in 
safety,  ['  and  a  fugitive,'  adds  the  interpolator],  losing  nothing  of  any 
consequence,  so  that  his  safety  was  in  effect  a  great  victory  to  him  and 
to  those  who  were  with  him  over  the  enemy,  who  were  in  such  large 
numbers,  and  had  succeeded  in  stopping  all  his  supplies.  This  first 
siege  lasted  five  months." 

'Amir's  second  attack  on  Sanaa  was  more  successful.  On  that  occa- 
sion, according  to  the  author  of  the  Runh  er-Ruah,  his  army  consisted 
of  180,000  men,  of  which  3,000  were  cavalry.  When  Varthema  met  him 
at  Radaii,  on  his  march  towards  Sanaa,  he  witnessed  a  review  of  80,000 
(See  p.  61  ante  and  note  2.) 

80  THE    TRAVELS    OF 

wide.  Think,  that  eight  horses  can  go  abreast  on  the  top  of 
it.1  In  this  place  many  fruits  grow  the  same  as  in  our  coun- 
try, and  there  are  many  fountains.  In  this  Sana  there  is  a 
Sultan  who  has  twelve  sons,  one  of  whom  is  called  Mahometh. 
lie  is  like  a  madman:  he  bites  people  and  kills  them,  and 
then  eats  their  flesh  until  his  appetite  is  satisfied.  He  is  four 
braza  high,  well  proportioned,  and  of  a  dark  brown  colour.2 
In  this  city  there  are  found  some  kinds  of  small  spices 
which  grow  in  the  neighbourhood.  This  place  contains 
about  4,000  hearths.  The  houses  are  very  handsome  and 
resemble  ours.  Within  the  city  there  are  many  vines  and 
gardens  as  with  us. 


After  seeing  Sana  I  resumed  my  journey  and  went  to 
another  city  called  Taesa,3  which  is  distant  three  days'  jour- 

1  Niebuhr  says  that  the  walls  are  of  earth,  faced  with  unburnt  brick 
and  surmounted  by  a  great  many  small  turrets.  According  to  the  nar- 
rative of  the  French  travellers  who  visited  Sanaa  in  1712,  as  given  by 
De  la  Roque  in  his  Voyage  de  V Arable  Heureuse,  the  breadth  of  the  walls 
is  sufficient  to  admit  of  driving  eight  horses  abreast. 

2  The  then  ruling  Imam  was  Ahmed  ibn  el-Imam  en-Nasir,  surnamed 
El-Mansur,  who  was  taken  prisoner  by  Sultan  'Amir  when  he  captured 
Sanaa,  and  died  at  Ta'ez  under  suspicion  of  having  been  poisoned.  I  have 
not  succeeded  in  discovering  any  notices  corroborative  of  Varthema's 
statement  respecting  the  cannibal  propensities  of  one  of  his  sons.  Bur- 
ton remarks  on  the  passage  :  "  This  is  a  tale  not  unfamiliar  to  the 
western  world.  Louis  XL  of  France  was  supposed  to  drink  the  blood  of 
babies, — 'pour  rajeunir  sa  veine  ejmisee.'  The  reasons  in  favour  of  such 
unnatural  diet  have  been  fully  explained  by  the  infamous  M.  de  Sade." 
Pilgrimage  to  El-Medinah  and  Mecca/t,  vol.  ii.  p.  352,  n. 

:i  Ta'ez  is  about  one  hundred  and  ten  miles  to  the  south  of  Sanaa. 
Abulfeda  says  that  in  his  time  (fourteenth  century)  it  was  the  residence 
of  the  princes  of  Yemen,  and  describes  it  as  "  a  fortress  situated  in  the 
midst  of  the  mountains  which  overlook  the  Tihama  [the  sea  coast], 
and  the  plain  of  Zebid.  Above  Ta'ez  there  is  a  pleasure-ground 
called  Sahlah,  to  which  spot  the  prince  of  Yemen  has  conducted  a  stream 


ncy  from  Sana  aforesaid,  and  is  situated  in  a  mountain. 
This  city  is  very  beautiful,  and  abounds  in  all  kinds  of 
elegancies,  and,  above  all,  in  a  vast  quantity  of  rose  water, 
which  is  distilled  here.  It  is  reported  of  this  city  that  it  is 
extremely  ancient :  there  is  a  temple  there  built  like  the 
Santa  Maria  Rotonda  of  Rome,  and  many  other  very  ancient 
palaces.  There  are  very  great  merchants  here.  These  people 
dress  like  those  above  mentioned.  They  are  olive  coloured. 
Departing  thence  I  went  to  another  city,  distant  from  this 
three  days' journey,  which  is  called  Zibit  ;l  a  large  and  very 

of  water  from  the  neighbouring  heights.  He  has  also  erected  several 
large  buildings  in  a  garden,  and,  altogether,  it  is  a  most  agreeable 
place."  Niebuhr,  who  gives  a  detailed  account  of  the  town  together 
with  a  view  and  plan,  says  it  is  situated  at  the  foot  of  a  fertile  moun- 
tain called  Jebel  Sabir,  and  is  surrounded  by  a  wall  of  crude  bricks  with 
a  slight  revkement  of  burnt  bricks.  Within  the  enceinte  of  the  walls  is 
a  steep  rock  four  hundred  feet  high,  on  which  the  citadel  El-Kahirah 
stands.  Varthema's  "  temple"  was  probably  the  mosque  of  the  re- 
nowned Mohammedan  saint  Isma'il  Mulk,  which  Niebuhr  styles  the 
"  Cathedral  of  Ta'ez."  There  are  many  mosques  and  other  public  build- 
ings both  within  and  without  the  city,  but  most  of  them  are  in  a  very 
dilapidated  condition.  Baskets  of  rosebuds  are  brought  from  Ta'ez  to 
Aden  during  the  season.  The  place  was  occupied  by  the  Egyptian  forces 
on  its  evacuation  by  Sultan  'Amir  ibn  Abd  el-Wahhab,  a  few  days 
before  his  capture  and  death.  At  present,  though  nominally  subject 
to  the  Imam  of  Sanaa,  it  is  governed  by  the  chief  of  the  Sherjebi  tribe 
who  inhabit  the  district. 

1  Zebid,  situated  in  one  of  the  most  fertile  valleys  of  Yemen,  was  for- 
merly the  capital  of  the  Tihama,  and  a  place  of  considerable  importance ; 
but  owing  to  the  gradual  filling-up  of  the  old  port  of  Ghalitkah,  much 
of  its  trade  was  diverted  to  Mokha,  Hodeidah,  and  Loheia,  and  it  is  now 
reduced  to  a  second-rate  town.  El-Edrisi  describes  it  in  bis  time  as 
"  a  large  city,  its  inhabitants  are  prosperous,  being  men  of  wealth  and 
substance,  and  the  voyagers  thereto  are  many.  There  assemble  mer- 
chants from  the  Hijaz,  and  Abyssinia,  and  Egypt,  who  go  up  in  Juddah 
vessels.  The  Abyssinians  bring  their  (raMk)  slaves  thereto,  and  from 
thence  are  exported  different  kinds  of  Indian  aromatics,  Chinese  and  other 
commodities."  (I  was  surprised  to  find  that  Gabriele  Sionita,  in  his  Latin 
translation  of  El-Edrisi,  makes  merces  of  the  Arabic  raMk,  which  occurs 
in  this  and  in  another  extract  which  I  have  quoted  in  note  1,  page  86. 
Raktk  is  a  common  word  for  slave  in  Yemen  and  in  Egypt.)    Abul- 


82  THE    TRAVELS    OF 

excellent  city,  situated  near  the  Red  Sea,  at  half  a  day's 
journey.  It  is  a  place  of  very  considerable  extent  by  the 
Red  Sea,  and  is  supplied  with  an  immense  quantity  of  sugar, 
and  has  most  excellent  fruits ;  is  situated  on  a  plain  between 
two  mountains,  and  has  no  walls  around  it.  A  very  great 
traffic  is  carried  on  here  in  spices  of  all  kinds,  which  are 
brought  from  other  countries.  The  dress  and  colour  of 
these  people  is  the  same  as  of  those  before  mentioned.  Then 
I  departed  from  this  place  and  went  to  another  city,  distant 
one  day's  journey,  called  Damar,1  inhabited  by  Moors,  who 
are  very  great  merchants.  The  said  city  is  very  fertile,  and 
the  manner  of  living  and  customs  of  the  inhabitants  are  the 
same  as  of  those  before  mentioned. 

feda  says  Zebid  is  "  situated  in  a  plain,  somewhat  less  than  a  day's 
journey  from  the  sea.  Its  water  is  derived  from  wells,  and  it  abounds 
in  palm-trees.  It  is  surrounded  by  a  wall,  and  has  eight  gates."  As 
this  latter  observation  contradicts  the  statement  of  Varthema,  it  must 
be  borne  in  mind  that  Abulfeda  wrote  two  centuries  before  his  time, 
and  the  more  recent  account  of  Niebuhr  is  sufficient  to  establish  our 
traveller's  general  veracity.  Niebuhr  states  that  "  the  wall  of  the  town 
is  almost  entirely  demolished  to  a  level  with  the  ground,  and  the  poor 
people  dig  into  the  foundations  to  obtain  stones  wherewith  to  build 
their  houses."  Notwithstanding  the  existence  of  a  river,  which  during 
the  rainy  season  flows  in  a  copious  stream  through  the  valley,  the  same 
author  says  that  the  inhabitants  draw  water  from  sunken  wells,  and  that 
it  is  of  an  excellent  quality.      Voy.  en  Arabie,  vol.  i.  pp.  261-264. 

Zebid  was  taken  from  'Amir  ibn  Abd  el-Wahhab  by  the  combined 
Egyptian  and  Turkish  armies  on  the  17th  of  Jumad  el-Awwal,  922  = 
17th  June,  1516.  The  excesses  which  they  committed  on  the  occasion, 
as  recorded  by  the  author  of  the  Kurrat  el  Ay  an,  were  atrocious  in  the 
extreme.  It  was  wrested  from  the  conquerors  not  long  after  by  the 
Imam  of  Sanaa,  and  continued,  nominally,  a  dependency  of  that  princi- 
pality until  it  finally  fell  into  the  hands  of  the  Turks,  together  with 
several  towns  on  the  coast,  about  A.D.  1832. 

1  More  correctly,  Dhamar,  situated  about  sixty  miles  to  the  east  of 
Zebid, — a  hard  day's  journey,  but  by  no  means  an  uncommon  one  with 
the  Arabs,  mounted  on  their  fleet  dromedaries.  Abulfeda  remarks  that 
it  is  a  well  known  city,  and  the  birthplace  of  many  authors  on  the 
Traditions.  Niebuhr,  who  visited  it,  says  that  it  is  situated  in  a  fertile 
territory,  and  is  renowned  for  its  breed  of  horses.  The  town,  which  is 
large  and  well  built,  has  no  wall,  but  is  defended  by  a  strong  fortress 





All  these  above-named  cities  are  subject  to  the  Sultan  of 
the  Amanni,1  that  is,  the  Sultan  of  Arabia  Felix,  who  is 
called  Sechamir.2   Secho  is  the  same  as  saint,  amir,  lord,  and 

adjoining.  It  contains  a  famous  Medresseh,  or  College,  belonging  to  the 
sect  of  the  Zaidieh,  which  was  frequented  by  five  hundred  students. 
Voyage  en  Arable,  vol.  i.  pp.  324-5. 

1  It  now  strikes  me  as  most  probable  that  Varthema's  "  Amanni"  is 
merely  his  Italian  way  of  writing  "  Yemen,"  which  Gabriele  Sionita,  in 
his  Latin  version  of  El-Edrisi,  renders  "  Iaman."  (For  a  different 
solution  see  note  2  on  p.  57.) 

2  We  have  here  another  remarkable  coincidence  strikingly  confirma- 
tive of  Varthema's  general  correctness.  The  reigning  prince  at  the  time 
was  'Amir  ibn  Abd  el-Wahhab  ibn  Daood  ibn  Dhahir,  etc.,  surnamed 
Edh-Dhafir  Salah  ed-Din,  who  succeeded  his  father  Abd  el-Wahhab, 
generally  styled  El-Melek  el-Mansur,  a.h.  894  =  a.d.  1488.  In  the 
course  of  a  few  years  he  wrested  the  greater  part  of  Yemen  from  the 
Imam,  and  eventually  occupied  Sanaa.  His  career,  indeed,  was  an 
unbroken  series  of  victories  until  arrested,  first  by  the  Egyptian  expedi- 
tion in  1515,  and  then  by  the  Turks,  who  invaded  Yemen  the  year  fol- 
lowing. He  was  overtaken  as  a  fugitive,  on  his  way  to  seek  shelter  in 
the  castle  of  Dhamarmar,  by  a  detachment  of  the  Egyptian  army  with 
which  he  had  had  a  fierce  engagement  on  the  preceding  day,  and  was 
murdered  by  them  in  cold  blood  on  the  24th  of  Rabiaa  el-Akhir,  923  = 
12th  May,  1017.  His  head  they  carried  to  Sanaa,  and  exhibited  it 
before  the  walls  ;  whereupon  the  people  surrendered  at  discretion,  and 
opened  the  gates  to  the  Egyptian  commander. 

The  following  account  of  the  various  public  monuments  erected  by 
'Amir  ibn  Abd  el-Wahhab  is  from  the  Kin-rat  el-Aydn  : — "  He  built  the 
Great  Mosque  in  the  city  of  Zebid,  which  excels  all  others,  and  expended 
thereon  enormous  wealth.  Also  the  Medresseh  [College]  called  Edh- 
Dhafirieh,  opposite  the  Dar  el-Kebir,  in  the  same  city.  Also  the  Me- 
dresseh of  Sheikh  Isma'il  ibn  Ibrahim  el-Jabraty,  and  the  tomb  of 
the  Fakih  Abi-bekr  ibn  'Ali  el-Haddad,  outside  the  town,  near  the  Bab 
el-Kartab.  Also  two  Medressehs  at  Ta'ez,  to  which  place  he  also  brought 
a  stream  of  water.  Also  the  Great  Mosque  and  a  Masjid  at  El-Makra- 
nah.  Also  a  Medresseh  at  Radaa  el-'Arsh.  Also  a  Masjid  at  Aden,  to 
which  place  he  also  conducted  the  water  [from  the  country  beyond]  as 
far  as  the  outer  gate,  and  built  a  large  reservoir  iu  the  town  itself,  and 

r  '> 

84  THE    TRAVELS    OF 

the  reason  why  they  call  him  holy  is  this,  that  he  never  put 
any  one  to  death  excepting  in  war.  You  must  know  that  in 
my  time  he  had  15,000  or  16,000  men  in  chains,  and  to  all 
he  gave  two  quattrini  per  man  for  their  expenses  daily,  and 
thus  he  left  them  to  die  in  prison  when  they  deserved  death. 
He  also  has  16,000  slaves  whom  he  maintains,  and  they  are 
all  black. 


Departing  from  this  place  I  went  to  the  above-mentioned 
city  of  Aden  for  five  days.  In  the  middle  of  the  route  I 
found  a  most  terrible  mountain,  in  which  we  saw  more  than 

another  at  the  village  of  'Aik  ;  besides  innumerable  other  mosques,  re- 
servoirs, wells,  and  dams,  wherever  they  were  needed,  and  in  detached 
hamlets.  He  it  was  who  laid  down  the  aqueduct  to  Aden  from  a  distant 
place,  which  cost  him  immense  treasures.  Other  pious  acts  without 
number  are  attributed  to  him,... and  no  passage  of  his  life  is  censurable 
except  his  interference  with  the  Fakihs  and  their  endowments.  And  I 
think  this  was  the  cause  of  his  downfal,  and  therefore  counsel  all 
sovereigns  who  may  rule  over  the  affairs  of  the  Mussulmans,  and  all 
others  who  may  have  anything  to  do  with  them,  not  to  meddle  with  the 
pious  endowments,  or  with  the  Ulema,  for  I  have  never  heard  of  any 
doing  so  who  was  not  punished,  either  in  his  person,  his  property,  or  his 

I  find  that  'Amir  ibn  Abd  el-Wahhab  was  styled  "  Sheikh"  prior  to 
his  succession  to  the  principality,  and  although  Arabian  historians 
denominate  him  subsequently  as  "  Sultan,"  it  is  highly  probable  that 
he  continued  to  be  styled,  generally,  "  Sheikh  'Amir."  The  word  Sheikh 
means  primarily  an  aged  man,  an  elder  ;  thence,  a  chief  or  ruler,  a  learned 
man,  or  one  renowned  for  piety. 

Varthema's  statement  that  'Amir  never  put  any  one  to  death  except 
in  war,  is  contradicted  by  the  narrative  of  his  life  contained  in  the 
Ktirrat  el-Ay  An  ;  though,  as  compared  with  his  predecessors,  and  espe- 
cially with  the  Egyptian  and  Turkish  pashas  who  succeeded  him,  he 
was  a  remarkably  lenient  ruler.  The  "  slaves"  mentioned  above  were 
chiefly  Abyssinians,  and  formed  the  principal  part  of  the  standing 


10,000  apes,1  amongst  which  were  certain  animals  like  lions, 
which  do  great  injury  to  man  when  in  their  power  to  do  so. 
On  their  account  it  is  not  possible  to  pass  by  that  route  ex- 
cepting in  companies  of  at  least  one  hundred  persons.  We 
passed  in  very  great  danger,  and  with  no  little  hunting  of 
the  said  animals.  However,  we  killed  a  great  number  of 
them  with  bows  and  slings  and  dogs,  so  that  we  passed  in 
safety.  As  soon  as  I  had  arrived  in  Aden,  I  placed  myself 
in  the  mosque  pretending  to  be  ill,  and  remained  there  all 
day.  In  the  evening  I  went  to  find  the  captain  of  the  ship, 
so  that  he  put  me  on  board  secretly. 


Having  determined  to  see  other  countries  we  put  to  sea 
according  to  our  intention;  but  as  fortune  is  accustomed  to 
exercise  her  unstable  will  on  the  water,  equally  unstable, 
we  were  turned  somewhat  from  our  design  ;  for,  six  days 
from  that  time  we  took  the  route  to  Persia,  sailing  for  seven 
days,  and  then  an  accident  occurred  which  made  us  run  as 
far  as  Ethiopia,  together  with  twenty-five  ships  laden  with 
madder  to  dye  clothes ;  for  every  year  they  lade  as  many  as 
twenty-five  ships  in  Aden  with  it.  This  madder  grows  in 
Arabia  Felix.-  With  extreme  labour  we  entered  into  the 
port  of  a  city  named  Zeila,  and  remained  there  five  days,  in 
order  to  see  it  and  wait  for  favourable  weather. 

1  In  the  original  "  gatti  maimoni."  Niebuhr  states  that  he  frequently 
saw  hundreds  of  apes  at  a  time  in  the  woods  of  Yemen.  Voy.  en  Arable, 
vol.  iii.  p.  147. 

Varthema's  animal  "  something  like  a  lion"  was  probably  the  hyena, 
which  is  not  uncommon  in  the  country.  Some  large  apes  still  exist  in 
the  hills  at  Aden,  and  a  hyena  was  killed  there  a  few  years  ago. 

2  Arabice,  Foowivah.  This  root  is  still  extensively  exported  from 
Aden  and  other  ports  of  Yemen. 

83  THE    TRAVELS    OF 





The  beforenamed  city  of  Zeila1  is  a  place  of  immense 
traffic,  especially  in  gold  and  elephants'  teeth.  Here  also 
are  sold  a  very  great  number  of  slaves,  which  are  those 
people  of  Prcster  John  whom  the  Moors  take  in  battle,  and 
from  this  place  they  are  carried  into  Persia,  Arabia  Felix, 
and  to  Mecca,  Cairo,  and  into  India.  In  this  city  people 
live  extremely  well,  and  justice  is  excellently  administered. 
Much  grain  grows  here  and  much  animal  food,  oil  in  great 
quantity,  made  not  from  olives  but  from  zerzalino,2  honey  and 

1  Zaila,  which  Vincent  identifies  as  the  ancient  Moonclus,  is  situated 
on  the  north-east  coast  of  Africa,  opposite  to  Aden,  and  about  sixty 
miles  from  the  Straits  of  Bab  el-Mandeb.  El-Edrisi,  who  calls  it 
"  Zalegh,"  says  "  it  is  a  town  small  in  size,  but  with  many  inhabitants  ; 
voyagers  thereto  also  are  numerous.  Most  of  the  ships  of  Kalzam  come 
as  far  as  this  town,  bringing  various  merchandise  which  is  traded  with 
in  Abyssinia.  Slaves  and  silver  are  taken  from  thence."  (As  silver  does 
not  appear  among  the  exports  from  Abyssinia  either  in  ancient  or  modern 
times,  except  in  the  shape  of  foreign  coin  which  had  previously  been 
imported  into  the  country,  the  Nubian  geographer  must  have  been  mis- 
informed in  that  particular.)  Abulfeda  correctly  describes  Zaila  as 
"  situated  at  the  bottom  of  a  bay,  in  a  plain,  and  the  heat  of  the  place 
is  excessive.  The  water  is  derived  from  wells,  but  is  brackish.  There 
are  no  gardens  or  fruits."  Ibn  Batuta  says  :  "  the  stench  of  the  coun- 
try is  extreme,  as  is  also  its  filth,  from  the  stink  of  the  fish,  and  the 
blood  of  camels  which  are  slaughtered  in  the  streets."  I  may  add,  from 
personal  experience,  that  it  is  a  most  wretched  place  in  every  respect  ; 
with  a  population  of  nearly  a  thousand  souls,  it  can  only  boast  of  about 
a  dozen  houses  built  of  madrepore,  the  remaining  dwellings  consisting 
of  mats  and  reeds.  Nevertheless,  Zaila,  as  the  principal  seaport  of 
Hurrur  and  southern  Abyssinia,  has  still  a  considerable  trade,  of  which 
gold  dust  and  elephants'  teeth  form  a  part.  Until  within  the  last  few 
years,  also,  it  carried  on  a  brisk  traffic  in  slaves,  who  were  exported  to 
the  places  mentioned  above  by  Varthema.  It  is  now  under  the  Ottoman 
Porte,  but  its  customs  are  farmed  by  the  Pasha  of  Hodeidah  to  a  native. 

51  Eden,  following  the  Latin  version,  has  translated  the  passage  thus : 


wax  in  great  abundance.  Here  is  found  a  kind  of  sheep, 
the  tail  of  which  weighs  fifteen  or  sixteen  pounds,  and  with 
the  head  and  neck  quite  black,  but  the  whole  of  the  rest  of 
the  body  white.1  There  are  also  some  other  sheep,  which 
have  tails  a  brazzo  long  and  twisted  like  vines,  and 
they  have  the  dewlap  like  that  of  a  bull,  which  almost 
touches  the  ground.  Also  in  this  place  I  found  a  certain 
kind  of  cows,  which  had  horns  like  a  stag  and  were  wild, 
which  had  been  presented  to  the  Sultan  of  the  said  city.2  I 
also  saw  here  other  cows,  which  had  a  single  horn  in  the 
forehead,  which  horn  is  a  palmo  and  a  half  in  length,  and 
turns  more  towards  the  back  of  the  cow  than  forwards.3  The 
colour  of  these  is  red,  that  of  the  former  is  black.  There  is 
an  abundance  of  provisions  in  this  city,  and  there  are  many 
merchants  here.     The  place  has  poor  walls  and  a  bad  port, 

"  It  hath  also  oyle,  not  of  olyues,  but  of  some  other  thyng,  I  knowe  not 
what."  The  word  "  zerzalino"  puzzled  me  till  I  remembered  how  fre- 
quently our  author  uses  the  letter  z  to  express  the  sound  of  j,  when  I 
perceived  at  once  that  he  me&ntjzdjultin,  (Forskjil  writes  if'dsjildjylari;" 
in  India  and  farther  east  it  is  pronounced  "jinjli"  or  ".  jirjili ;"  and 
Baretti  gives  "  giuggiolana"  as  an  Italian  equivalent  for  sesame,)  one  of 
the  Arabic  names  for  the  Sesamum  Indicum,  the  oil  of  which  is  largely 
exported  from  Zaila.     Honey  and  wax,  also,  are  among  its  exports  still. 

1  A  correct  description  of  the  Berbera  sheep  generally.  It  is  rare  to 
see  an  entirely  white  one,  or  one  marked  otherwise  than  above  stated  ; 
they  have  also  a  long  dewlap.  The  other  species  mentioned  is  less  com- 
mon. The  caudal  extremity  of  the  latter  may  be  likened  to  an  exagge- 
rated pig's  tail. 

3  Most  probably  the  oryx,  though  Varthema  would  have  been  more 
correct  had  he  represented  the  horns  as  similar  to  those  of  an  antelope. 
The  oryx  abounds  inland  from  Zaila,  is  often  shot,  but  very  rarely  taken 

3  We  have  here  another  monoceros,  but  it  is  quite  clear  that  the  ani- 
mals described  differed  from  the  unicorns  which  Varthema  saw  at  Meccah 
(see  p.  47  ante.)  He  may  have  met  with  some  specimens  of  the  African 
rhinoceros  at  Zaila  ;  but  if  so,  they  must  have  been  brought  thither 
from  the  distant  interior,  as  the  animal  is  not  found  in  the  neighbour- 
hood ;  indeed,  though  the  horns  are  frequently  imported  from  thence  to 
the  Aden  market,  I  have  never  heard  of  a  live  rhinoceros  existing  on 
that  coast. 

88  THE    TRAVELS    OF 

nevertheless  it  is  situated  on  level  ground  and  the  main- 
land. The  king  of  this  Zeila  is  a  Moor,  and  has  many- 
soldiers,  both  foot  and  horse.v  The  people  are  warlike.  Their 
dress  consists  of  a  shirt.  They  are  olive-coloured.  They 
go  badly  armed,  and  are  all  Mahomraedans.1 


As  soon  as  the  weather  became  favourable,  we  set  sail  and 
arrived   at  an  island  which   is   called   Barbara,2  the  lord  of 

1  A  tolerably  accurate  description  of  the  SomCdis,  so  called  from 
Barr  es-Sumdl,  by  which  name  the  country  from  Ras  Hafun  on  the 
eastern  coast  of  Africa  as  far  as  Zaila  westward  is  designated.  The  in- 
habitants, according  to  Cruttenden,  "  are  divided  into  two  great  nations, 
who,  both  tracing  their  origin  from  the  Arab  province  of  Hadhramaut, 
are  yet  at  bitter  and  endless  feud  with  each  other.  The  principal  of 
these  two  great  families  is  that  to  the  eastward,  or  windward,  of  Burnt 
Island.  It  is  divided  into  four  large  and  three  smaller  tribes.... They 
claim  as  their  common  father  Darrood,  the  son  of  Ishmail,  the  son  of 
Okeil,  the  son  of  Arab,  who  came  from  Hadhramaut,  and,  marrying  a 
daughter  of  the  Ilaweea  tribe  residing  on  the  north-east  coast  of  Africa, 
became  the  first  Muhammedan  founder  of  the  Somali  nation  to  the  east- 

"  The  second  of  these  two  nations  extends  from  Burnt  Island,  or 
Bunder  Jedid,  to  Zaila,  and  is  divided  into  three  great  tri!>es,  namely, 
the  Haber-Gehajjis,  the  Haber-Awwal,  and  the  Habert  el-Jahlah,  {Haber 
meaning  the  sons  of),  who  were  the  children  of  Isaakh  by  three  wives, 
the  said  Isaak  having  crossed  over  from  Hadhramaut  some  time  after  his 
countrymen  had  founded  the  nation  to  the  eastward,  and  settled  at  the 
town  of  Meyt,  near  Burnt  Island,  where  his  tomb  exists  to  this  day. 
Isaakh,  finding  his  influence  on  the  increase,  owing  to  his  intermarriage 
with  a  Galla  tribe,  made  a  sudden  descent  upon  the  neighbourhood  of 
Berbera,  then  in  the  hands  of  a  celebrated  Galla  chieftain,  Sultan 
Ilarireh,  and  succeeded  in  obtaining  possession  of  the  country  as  far  as 
Zaila... The  patriarch  Isaakh  was  gathered  to  his  fathers  at  a  very  ad- 
vanced age,  and  was  buried  at  the  town  of  Meyt,  leaving  behind  him  a 
name  which  is  respected  to  this  day."  Transactions  of  the  Bombay 
Geographical  Society,  vol.  viii. 

a  This  was  undoubtedly  Berbera,  but  it  is  not  an  island  as  Varthcma 


which  with  all  the  inhabitants  are  Moors.  This  island  is 
small  but  good  and  very  well  peopled,  and  contains  many- 
supposed.  The  name  is  generally  applied  to  a  deep  and  narrow  inlet, 
forming  a  safe  harbour  during  the  north-east  monsoon,  and  to  the 
country  in  its  neighbourhood.  It  is  situated  about  one  hundred  and 
twenty  miles  to  the  south-east  of  Zaila. 

Dr.  Vincent  identifies  Berbera  with  the  Mosullon  of  the  author  of  the 
Periplus,  and  that  it  "  has  existed  as  a  port  of  great  trade  for  several 
centuries,"  writes  Cruttenden,  "  I  conceive  to  be  almost  sufficiently 
proved  by  the  fact  of  its  being  an  annual  rendezvous  for  so  many  nations 
to  the  present  day,  and  from  the  time  for  this  great  meeting  having 
been  chosen  so  as  to  suit  the  set  of  the  Red  Sea  and  Indian  Monsoons... 
The  annual  fair  is  one  of  the  most  interesting  sights  on  the  coast,  if 
only  from  the  fact  of  so  many  different  and  distant  tribes  being  drawn 
together  for  a  short  time,  to  be  again  scattered  in  all  directions.  From 
April  to  the  early  part  of  October  the  place  is  utterly  deserted,  not  even 
a  fisherman  being  found  there;  but  no  sooner  does  the  season  change, 
than  the  inland  tribes  commence  moving  down  towards  the  coast,  and 
preparing  their  huts  for  their  expected  visitors."  It  is  estimated  that 
as  many  as  20,000  natives  assemble  annually  at  this  fair  to  barter  their 
gums,  resins,  ostrich  feathers,  coffee,  ghee,  oil,  cattle,  and  sheep,  with 
merchants  from  the  Red  Sea,  Muscat,  Baharain,  Basra,  Porebunder, 
Mandavie,  Bombay,  and  other  Indian  ports.  A  considerable  quantity 
of  these  commodities  is  also  brought  over  to  the  Aden  market  by  the 
Somalis,  and  the  town  and  garrison  there  are  almost  entirely  supplied 
with  butcher's  meat  from  Berbera.  Speaking  of  that  country  Crutten- 
den further  says  :  "  The  number  of  sheep,  goats,  she-camels,  etc.,  found 
on  these  plains  is  perfectly  incredible,  fully  realizing  the  account  given 
of  the  flocks  and  herds  of  the  patriarchs  of  old  ;  for  many  of  the  elders 
of  these  tribes  own  each  more  than  1,500  she-camels,  and  their  flocks  of 
sheep  are  literally  uncounted."  The  territory  is  governed  by  the  elders 
of  the  different  tribes,  but  during  the  fair  at  Berbera  no  chief  is  acknow- 
ledged, the  customs  of  by-gone  years  being  the  only  recognized  laws  of 
the  place. 

As  Berbera  was  inhabited  when  our  traveller  arrived  there,  it  is  obvi- 
ous that  his  visit  took  place  during  the  north-east  monsoon,  and  that 
fact  explains  the  circumstance  of  his  having  been  driven  back  towards 
the  African  coast  after  sailing  from  Aden.  The  vessel  probably  encoun- 
tered one  of  those  strong  north-westerly  gales,  called  Balat  by  the  Arabs, 
which  occasionally  occur  during  that  season  along  the  north-east  coast 
of  Arabia. 

Although  Varthema  supplies  us  with  few  dates,  we  are  enabled  to 
verify  this  inference  by  several  incidental  remarks  in  the  preceding  nar- 

90  THE    TRAVELS    OF 

animals  of  every  kind.  The  people  are  for  the  most  part 
black,  and  their  wealth  consists  more  in  animals  than  in 
other  things.  We  remained  here  one  day,  and  then  set  sail 
and  took  the  route  towards  Persia. 

rativc.  lie  left  Damascus  on  the  8th  of  April,  reached  Meccah  in  six 
weeks,  and  remained  there  several  days  at  least.  Was  twelve  days  tra- 
velling to  El-Medinah,  where  he  also  sojourned  some  time  before  starting 
for  Juddah.  He  was  detained  a  fortnight  at  the  latter  place,  and  was 
seventeen  days  more  making  the  voyage  to  Aden.  At  Aden  he  was  impri- 
soned for  two  months  before  being  sent  to  Radaa,,  where  he  arrived 
during  the  hot  weather,  for  grapes  were  in  season,  and  on  his  release  he 
travelled  through  a  great  part  of  Yemen,  which  occupied  him  not  less 
than  six  weeks  more.  These  periods  combined  make  between  seven  and 
eight  months,  so  that  he  probably  left  Aden  about  the  middle  of  Decem- 
ber, when  the  north-easterly  monsoon  was  fully  set  in,  and  the  fair  at 
Berbera  was  at  its  height. 






When  we  had  sailed  about  twelve  days  we  arrived  at  a  city 
which  is  called  Diuobandierrumi,1  that  is,  "  Diu,  the  port  of 

1  Though  Vartherna  heads  this  chapter  as  relating  to  Persia,  the  two 
places  first  named  obviously  belong  to  the  Indian  province  of  Guzerat, 
and  the  change  in  the  course  of  the  vessel  in  which  he  sailed,  originally 
bound  for  the  former  country,  may  have  been  caused  by  the  shipment  of 
cargo  for  those  places  at  Zaila  and  Berbera,  between  which  and  the 
Somali  coast  there  is  still  considerable  traffic. 

Diu  Bander  er-Rdm,  which  our  traveller  correctly  renders  "  Diu  the 
Port  of  the  Turks"  (or  Greeks,)  but  which  Eden,  following  the  doubtful 
Latin  version,  mistranslates  "  The  holy  porte  of  Turkes,"  is  undoubtedly 
the  small  island  of  Diu,  situated  in  the  Gulf  of  Cambay,  at  that  period 
subject  to  Mahmud  Bigarrah,  the  reigning  Sultan  of  Guzerat.  I  have 
sought  in  vain  for  the  distinctive  title  which  Vartherna  gives  it,  and 
which  is  Arabic  in  its  form,  in  any  other  writer  either  before  or  after  hi3 
time.  The  author  of  the  Kurrat  el-WyAn  mentions  a  severe  hurricane 
"at  Bander  Diu  in  the  Indian  Sea,"  in  the  month  of  January  1495, 
wherein  many  vessels  were  lost ;  and  the  Ruah  er-Ruah  records  the  death, 
five  years  later,  of  one  'Abdallah  ibn  Muhammed  ibu  'Alowi,  a  famous 
Seyyed  of  Yemen,  "  at  Bander  Diu  in  India  ;"  but  the  suffix  "  Er-Riimi" 
never  occurs  in  their  works  in  connexion  with  the  place.  The  following 
extract  from  the  Histoire  des  Voyages,  relating  the  events  of  1530,  though 
it  fails  to  solve  the  difficulty,  goes  to  prove  that  the  name  was  familiar 
in  those  parts,  and  that  foreigners  styled  "  Rutni"  or  "  Rum"  resided  at 
Diu  about  that  period  : — "  Badur  [Bahadur],  qui  avait  succecle  au  tron 
de  Cambaye,  se  crut  redevable  de  son  salut  a  Mustapha.  II  lui  accorda 
pour  recompense   le  gouvernement  de  Baroche,   avec  le  titre  de  Rami, 

92  THE    TRAVELS    OF 

the  Turks,"  which  city  is  situated  a  short  distance  from  the 
mainland.  When  the  tide  rises  it  is  an  island,  and  when 
it  falls  you  can  pass  over  on  foot.  This  city  is  subject  to  the 
Sultan  of  Combeia,  and  the  captain  of  this  Diuo  is  one 
named  Menacheaz.  We  remained  here  two  days.  There  is 
an  immense  trade  in  this  city.  Four  hundred  Turkish  mer- 
chants reside  here  constantly.  This  city  is  surrounded  by 
walls  and  contains  much  artillery  within  it.  They  have 
certain  vessels  which  are  called  Thalac,  which  are  somewhat 
less  than  galleys.  We  departed  thence  and  went  to  a  city 
which  is  called  Goa,1   distant  from  the   above  about  three 

parce  qu'il  ctait  Grec,  et  celui  de  Kan.  Ainsi  nous  le  verrons  paroitre 
desormais  sous  le  nom  de  Rumi-Kan."     Vol.  i.  p.  118. 

The  town  of  Diu  is  situated  at  the  eastern  extremity  of  the  island,  and 
is  well  fortified,  being  surrounded  by  a  wall  strengthened  with  towers  at 
regular  intervals.  The  channel  between  the  island  and  the  mainland  is 
navigable  only  for  fishing-boats  and  other  small  craft.  Notwithstanding 
the  excellence  of  the  harbour  for  ships  of  moderate  draught,  there  is  but 
little  traffic.  (See  Thornton's  Gazetteer  of  India.)  In  this  latter  respect 
the  place  must  have  fallen  off  considerably  since  Varthema's  time. 
M.  Csesar  Fredericks,  who  visited  it  a.d.  1563,  describes  it  as  "a  small 
city,  but  of  great  trade,  because  there  they  lade  very  many  great  ships 
for  the  straights  of  Mecca  and  Ormus  with  merchandise."  (Uakloyt's 
Voyages,  vol.  ii.)  Diu  was  captured  by  the  Portuguese  in  1515,  and 
remains  in  their  possession  still.  In  1539  they  repelled  an  attack  on 
the  place  by  the  Turkish  fleet  under  Suleiman  Pasha,  who  was  obliged 
to  return  to  Suez.  On  his  way  thither  he  remained  some  time  at  Zebid, 
exciting  the  people  to  revolt,  with  a  view  to  extort  money  from  the 
Imam.  Such  is  the  opinion  of  the  author  of  the  Rudh  er-Ruuh,  who 
adds  : — "I  have,  moreover,  heard  from  credible  witnesses,  that  he  accepted 
rich  gifts  from  the  powers  in  India  to  induce  him  not  to  prosecute  the  war 
in  that  quarter." 

1  This  was  unquestionably  Gogha,  or,  as  it  is  now  usually  called,  Gogo, 
a  town  situate  in  the  peninsula  of  Katty  war,  on  the  western  shore  of  the 
Gulf  of  Cambay,  about  one  hundred  miles  to  the  north  east  of  Diu. 
Forbes  describes  it  at  present  as  "  a  neat  and  thriving  seaport  town, 
containing  upwards  of  eight  thousand  inhabitants,  and  possessing  the 
best  roadstead  in  the  Gulf  of  Cambay.  Its  seamen,  called  Goghilrees, 
partly  of  the  Mohammedan  faith,  and  partly  Koolee  or  Hindoo,  the 
descendants  of  the  navigators  fostered  by  the  kings  of  Unhilwara,  still 
maintain  their  ancient  reputation,  and  form  the  best  and  most  trusted 


days'  journey.  This  Goa  is  a  district  of  large  extent  and 
great  traffic,  and  is  fat  and  wealthy.  The  inhabitants,  how- 
ever, are  all  Muhammedans.  We  quitted  Goa  and  went  to 
another  district  called  Guilfar,  which  is  most  excellent  and 
abounding  in  everything1  There  is  a  good  seaport  there, 
from  which  port  setting  sail  with  propitious  winds  we  arrived 
at  another  port  which  is  called  Meschet.3 

portion  of  every  Indian  crew  that  sails  the  sea  under  the  flag  of  Eng- 
land. On  the  south-west  corner  of  the  town,  and  outside  the  circuit  of 
the  present  wall,  may,  however,  be  observed  the  site  of  the  ancient 
citadel... The  situation  was  admirably  selected  for  defensive  purposes, 
being  the  highest  in  the  neighbourhood,  and  commanding  an  extensive 
view  of  the  gulf  and  the  island  of  Perumbh,  or  Peerum,  on  the  one  side, 
and  on  the  other  of  the  whole  country  as  far  as  the  foot  of  the  Khokura 
hills."  (Ms  Mala,  vol.  i.  p.  318.)  In  Hamilton's  time  (1688-1723)  Gogo 
was  "  governed  by  an  officer  from  the  Great  Mogul."  It  was  taken  from 
the  Mahrattas  by  the  British  in  1S05,  and  now  forms  part  of  the  district 
of  Ahmedabad. 

1  From  Gogo,  Varthema  must  have  crossed  the  Indian  Sea  and 
entered  the  Persian  Gulf,  for  Julfar  is  situated  within  the  Gulf,  on  the 
western  side  of  Mussendora,  about  twenty  miles  to  the  south  of  that 
cape.  It  is  one  of  five  towns  belonging  to  the  Shihiyyin  Arabs,  and  its 
inhabitants  form  the  more  stationary  and  civilized  portion  of  that  tribe, 
beiug  engaged  chiefly  in  pearl-fishing,  trade,  and  agriculture.  Their 
food  consists  of  dates,  wheat,  barley,  meat,  and  fish  in  abundance.  The 
remainder  of  the  tribe  is  occupied  in  gaining  a  precarious  livelihood  by 
fishing  in  the  small  bays  on  the  coast,  or  in  wandering  over  the  arid  rocks 
of  the  interior,  which  supply  a  scanty  vegetation  for  their  flocks.  The 
male  adults  of  the  tribe  are  said  to  amount  to  14,000. 

Julfar  was  captured  by  the  Portuguese  in  the  early  part  of  the  six- 
teenth century.  They  maintained  an  establishment  there,  protected  by 
a  fort,  for  the  purpose  of  pearl-fishing,  until  their  expulsion  from  the 
gulf,  when  it  reverted  to  the  Arabs.  In  1819  the  town  and  fort  were 
destroyed  by  a  combined  British  and  Maskat  expedition,  in  retaliation 
for  several  acts  of  piracy  committed  by  vessels  belonging  to  the  tribe. 

2  Maskat  (Muscat),  the  principal  seaport  town  of  the  province  of 
Oman,  or,  more  correctly,  'Amman.  As  that  place  is  situated  on  the 
north-east  coast  of  Arabia,  bordering  the  Indian  Sea,  in  lat.  23°  28'  N., 
long.  59°  19'  E.,  a  retrograde  voyage  was  made  of  two  hundred  miles. 
The  native  vessel,  however,  does  not  appear  to  have  had  a  fixed 
course,  although  her  destination  on  leaving  Aden  was  the  Persian  Gulf; 
but  the  Arab  skipper  was  probably  guided  in   his  movements  by  the 

94  THE    TRAVELS    OF 



PEARLS    AT    IT    BY    FISHING.. 

Pursuing  our  journey,  we  departed  from  Meschet  and  went 
to  the  noble  city  of  Orraus,1  which  is  extremely  beautiful. 

freights  which  he  picked  up  here  and  there  on  the  coast,  and  our 
traveller  availed  himself  of  the  opportunities  thus  afforded  to  satisfy  his 
desire  for  seeing  new  countries. 

Maskat,  at  the  period  of  Varthema's  visit,  was  governed  by  a  native 
sovereign  who  resided  at  Nezwa,  two  days'  journey  inland.  It  was 
captured  by  the  Portuguese,  together  with  several  other  places  on  the 
Bfitinah  coast,  in  the  early  part  of  the  sixteenth  century.  They  re- 
tained possession  till  1640,  when  they  were  expelled  from  the  country 
by  Sultan  Bin  Seif,  in  whose  family  the  sovereignty  of  Amman  remains 
to  the  present  day. 

1  'Abd  er-Razzak,  who  visited  the  island  of  Hormuz  sixty  years  before 
Varthema,  speaks  in  similar  terms  of  its  commercial  prosperity.  (See 
India  in  the  Fifteenth  Century,  Hakluyt  Society's  Publications,  pp. 
5,  6.)  Ralph  Fitch,  in  1583,  describes  it  as  "  an  island  in  circuit  about 
five  and  twenty  or  thirty  miles,  and  the  driest  island  in  the  world  ;  for 
there  is  nothing  growing  in  it  but  only  salt ;  for  the  water,  wood,  or 
victuals,  and  all  things  necessary,  come  out  of  Persia,  which  is  about 
twelve  miles  from  thence.  The  Portuguese  have  a  castle  there,  wherein 
there  is  a  captain  for  the  king  of  Portugal,  having  under  him  a  con- 
venient number  of  soldiers,  whereof  some  part  remain  in  the  castle  and 
some  in  the  town.  In  this  town  are  merchants  of  all  nations,  and  many 
Moors  and  Gentiles.  Here  is  a  very  great  trade  of  all  sorts  of  spices, 
drugs,  silk,  cloth  of  silk,  fine  tapestry  of  Persia,  great  store  of  pearls, 
which  come  from  the  isle  of  Baharim  [Baharein],  and  are  the  best  pearls 
of  all  others,  and  many  horses  of  Persia,  which  serve  all  India.  They 
have  a  Moor  to  their  king,  who  is  chosen  and  governed  by  the  Portu- 
guese."    Pinkeiiton's  Voyages,  vol.  ix.  p.  407. 

Hormuz  was  captured  by  the  Portuguese  under  Alberquerque  in  1508, 
who  were  expelled  in  turn  by  Shah  Abbas,  assisted  by  the  British,  in 
1G22,  since  which  time  it  has  been  a  dependency  of  Persia.  Shah  Abbas 
transferred  its  commerce  to  Gombrun,  or  Gamrun,  situate  on  the  conti- 
nent, and  styled  after  him  Bander  Abbas.  The  island  was  a  dependency 
of  Persia  when  Marco  Polo  visited  it  towards  the  middle  of  the  13th 
century,  and,  although  governed  by  an  Arab  ruler,  it  was  tributary  to 
that  power  when  taken  by  the  Portuguese,  who  allowed  him  to  retain 
his  dignity  on  payment  of  an  annual  tribute  of  15,000  ashrafi,  about 


It  is  an  island,  and  is  the  chief,  that  is,  as  a  maritime  place, 
and  for  merchandise.  It  is  distant  from  the  mainland  ten 
or  twelve  miles.  In  this  said  island  there  is  not  sufficient 
water  or  food,  but  all  comes  from  the  mainland.  Near  this 
island,  at  a  distance  of  three  days'  journey,  they  fish  up  the 
largest  pearls  which  are  found  in  the  world,  and  the  manner 
of  fishing  for  them  is  as  you  shall  hear.  There  are  certain 
fishers  with  some  little  boats,  who  throw  out  a  large  stone 
attached  to  a  thick  rope,  one  from  the  stern  and  one  from 
the  prow,  in  order  that  the  said  boats  may  remain  firm :  they 
throw  down  another  rope,  also  with  a  stone,  to  the  bottom. 
In  the  middle  of  the  boat  is  one  of  these  fishers,  who  hangs 
a  couple  of  bags  round  his  neck,  and  ties  a  large  stone  to  his 
feet,  and  goes  fifteen  paces  under  water,  and  remains  there 
as  long  as  he  is  able,  in  order  to  find  the  oysters  in  which 
are  pearls.  As  he  finds  them  he  puts  them  into  the  bags,  and 
then  leaves  the  stone  which  he  had  at  his  feet,  and  comes  up 
by  one  of  the  said  ropes.1  Sometimes,  as  many  as  three  hun- 
dred vessels  belonging  to  different  countries  are  assembled 
at  the  said  city,  the  Sultan  of  which  is  a  Mahommedan. 

.£1,250  of  our  money.  {Ilistoire  des  Voyages,  vol.  i.  p.  110.)  It  is  now 
farmed  of  the  Persian  Shah  by  the  Sultan  of  Maskat,  together  with 
Bunder  Abbas,  Minau,  and  several  other  places  on  the  mainland,  for  a 
yearly  payment  of  16,000  Toonians=.£7,G00  ;  but  it  has  lost  all  its 
former  trade  and  prosperity,  and  its  population  consists  of  about  four 
hundred  inhabitants,  mostly  employed  in  the  salt  trade  and  as  fishermen. 
The  island  has  no  water  except  what  is  saved  in  reservoirs  during  the 
rains.  There  are  a  number  of  these  reservoirs  in  good  repair,  and  the 
ruins  of  some  hundreds,  showing  what  the  place  was  in  former  times. 
The  old  Portuguese  lighthouse  is  still  standing,  though  fast  falling  to 
decay.  Large  quantities  of  salt  are  exported  from  the  island  to  all 
parts  of  the  Persian  Gulf  and  the  coasts  of  Arabia.  The  fort  is  garri- 
soned by  a  hundred  men  belonging  to  the  Sultan  of  Maskat.  The  chan- 
nel between  Hormuz  and  the  mainland  directly  opposite  is  only  four 
miles  broad.  Between  the  island  and  Bunder  Abbas  it  averages  between 
eleven  and  twelve. 

1  This  is  a  correct  description  of  the  pearl  fishery  as  it  exists  at  the 
present  day. 

96  THE    TRAVELS    OF 




At  the  time  when  I  visited  this  country  there  happened 
that  which  you  shall  hear.  The  Sultan  of  Ormus  had  eleven 
male  children.  The  youngest  was  considered  to  be  simple, 
that  is,  half  a  fool :  the  eldest  was  looked  upon  as  a  devil 
unchained.  Also  the  said  Sultan  had  brought  up  two  slaves, 
the  sons  of  Christians,  that  is,  of  those  of  Prester  John, 
whom  he  had  purchased  when  quite  young,  and  he  loved 
them  like  his  own  children.1  They  were  gallant  cavaliers 
and  lords  of  castles.  One  night,  the  eldest  son  of  the  Sultan 
put  out  the  eyes  of  his  father,  mother,  and  all  his  brothers, 
excepting  the  half-witted  one  ;  then  he  carried  them  into 
the  chamber  of  his  father  and  mother,  and  put  fire  in  the 
midst,  and  burnt  the  chamber  with  the  bodies  and  all  that 
was  therein.  Early  in  the  morning  what  had  taken  place 
became  known,  and  the  city  arose  at  the  rumour,  and  he 
fortified  himself  in  the  palace,  and  proclaimed  himself  Sultan. 
The  younger  brother,  who  was  considered  a  fool,  did  not, 
however,  show  himself  to  be  such  a  fool  as  he  was  supposed 
to  be  ;  for,  hearing  what  had  taken  place,  he  took  refuge 
in  a  Moorish  mosque,  saying :  "  Vualla  occuane  saithan 
uchatelabu  eculo  cuane,"  that  is,  "  O  God,  my  brother  is  a 
devil ;  he  has  killed  my  father,  my  mother,  and  all  my 
brothers,  and  after  having  killed  them  he  has  burnt  them."2 
At  the  expiration  of  fifteen  days  the  city  became  tranquil. 

1  Ilabeshi,  or  Abyssinian  slaves,  mostly  of  Christian  parentage,  were 
the  roost  trusted  and  favourite  soldiers  of  the  sultans  and  other  chiefs  of 
Arabia  at  this  period.  They  were  also  imported  largely  into  India,  and 
frequently  acquired  considerable  influence  in  the  courts  of  the  native 

-  W Allah,  akh&na  shaitdn  :  hua  kdtel  abdh,  wa-hul  a&hwdnana.  By 
God  !  our  brother  is  a  devil  :  he  has  killed  his  father,  and  all  my 



The  Sultan  sent  for  one  of  the  slaves  above  mentioned  and 
said  to  him  :  "  Thale  inte  Mahometh."  The  slave,  who 
was  named  Mahometh,  answered  :  "  Escult  iasidi,"  that  is, 
"  What  dost  thou  say,  lord  ?  Said  the  Sultan :  "  An  ne 
Soldan  ?"  that  is,  "  Am  I  Sultan  ?"  Mahometh  replied : 
"  Heu  valla  siti  inte  Soldan,"  that  is,  "Yes,  by  God,  thou 
art  Sultan."1  Then  the  Sultan  took  him  by  the  hand  and 
made  much  of  him,  and  said  to  him  :  "  Roa  chatel  zaibei 
anneiati  arba  ochan  sechala,"  that  is, "  Go  and  kill  thy  com- 
panion, and  I  will  give  thee  five  castles."2  Mahometh  re- 
plied :  "  Iasidi  anue  iacul  menau  men  saibi  theletin  sane 
vualla  sidi  ancasent,"  that  is,  "  O  lord,  I  have  eaten  with 
my  companion  thirty  years  and  acted  with  him,  I  cannot 
bring  my  mind  to  do  such  a  thing."3  Then  said  the  Sultan  : 
"  Well,  let  it  alone."  Four  days  afterwards,  the  said  Sultan 
sent  for  the  other  slave,  who  was  named  Cairn,  and  made 
the  same  speech  to  him  that  he  had  made  to  his  companion, 
that  is,  that  he  should  go  and  kill.  "  Bizemele,"  Cairn  said 
at  once,  (s  erechman  erachin  Iasidi,"  that  is,  "  So  be  it, 
lord,  in  the  name  of  God  ;"4  and  then  he  armed  himself 
secretly  and  went  immediately  to  find  Mahometh  his  com- 
panion. When  Mahometh  saw  him,  he  looked  him  fixedly 
in  the  face,  and  said  to  him  :  "  O  traitor,  thou  canst  not 
deny  it,  for  I  detect  thee  by  thy  countenance  ;  but  look  now, 
for  I  will  slay  thee  sooner  than  that  thou  slay  me."  Cairn, 
who  saw  himself  discovered  and  known,  drew  forth  his 
dagger,  and  threw  it  at  the  feet  of  Mahometh,  and  falling 

1  Tadl  anta,  Muhammed.  Come  hither,  Muhammed.  Aish  kult,  ya 
sidi  ?  What  do  you  say,  sir  1  Ana  sultan  1  Am  I  sultan  1  Ay  w"1  Al- 
lah, sidi,  anta  sultan.     Yes,  sir,  you  are  sultan. 

2  Ruh  aktal  sdhibek,  iva-ana  'aattk  arbda  aw  khams  kalda.  Go  kill 
your  comrade,  and  I  will  give  you  four  or  five  castles. 

3  Ya  sidi,  ana  akalt  mda,u  rain  sabi, — thldthin  sana .  W'Allah,  sidi, 
anlcdssir.  Oh,  sir,  I  have  eaten  with  him  from  childhood, — thirty  years. 
By  God,  sir,  I  shall  fail. 

4  B'ism-Illah,  er-Rahm&n,  er-Rahim.  In  the  name  of  God,  the  Piti- 
ful, the  Compassionate.     A  formula  frequently  used  to  express  assent. 


98  THE   TRAVELS    OF 

on  his  knees  before  him  said :  "  O,  my  lord,  pardon  me 
although  I  deserve  death,  and  if  it  seem  good  to  thee  take 
these  arms  and  kill  me,  for  I  came  to  kill  thee."  Mahometh 
replied :  "  It  may  be  well  said  that  thou  art  a  traitor,  having 
been  with  me,  and  acted  with  me,  and  eaten  together  with 
me  for  thirty  years,  and  then  at  last  to  wish  to  put  me  to 
death  in  so  vile  a  manner.  Thou  poor  creature,  dost  thou 
not  see  that  this  man  is  a  devil.  Rise,  however,  for  I  par- 
don thee.  But  in  order  that  thou  mayest  understand,  know 
that  this  man  urged  me,  three  days  ago,  to  kill  thee,  but 
I  would  not  in  any  way  consent.  Now,  leave  all  to  God, 
but  go  and  do  as  I  shall  tell  thee.  Go  to  the  Sultan,  and 
tell  him  that  thou  hast  slain  me."  Cairn  replied  :  "  I  am 
content,"  and  immediately  went  to  the  Sultan.  When  the 
Sultan  saw  him  he  said  to  him  :  "  Well,  hast  thou  slain  thy 
friend  ?"  Cairn  answered  :  "  Yes,  sir,  by  God."  Said  the 
Sultan :  "  Come  here,"  and  he  went  close  to  the  Sultan, 
who  seized  him  by  the  breast  and  killed  him  by  blows  of 
his  dagger.  Three  days  afterwards  Mahometh  armed  him- 
self secretly  and  went  to  the  Sultan's  chamber,  who,  when 
he  saw  him,  was  disturbed  and  exclaimed  :  "  O  dog,  son  of 
a  dog,  art  thou  still  alive  ?"  Said  Mahometh  :  "  I  am  alive, 
in  spite  of  thee,  and  I  will  kill  thee,  for  thou  art  worse  than 
a  dog  or  a  devil ;"  and  in  this  way,  with  their  arms  in  their 
hands,  they  fought  awhile.  At  length  Mahometh  killed  the 
Sultan,  and  then  fortified  himself  in  the  palace.  And  be- 
cause he  was  so  much  beloved  in  the  city,  the  people  all  ran 
to  the  palace  crying  out :  "  Long  live  Mahometh  the  Sul- 
tan !"  and  he  continued  Sultan  about  twenty  days.  When 
these  twenty  days  were  passed,  he  sent  for  all  the  lords  and 
merchants  of  the  city,  and  spoke  to  them  in  this  wise  : 
"  That  that  which  he  had  done  he  had  been  obliged  to  do  ; 
that  he  well  knew  that  he  had  no  right  to  the  supreme 
power,  and  he  entreated  all  the  people  that  they  would 
allow  him  to  make  king  that  son  who  was  considered  crazy  ;" 


and  thus  he  was  made  king.  It  is  true,  however,  that  Ma- 
hometh  governs  everything.  All  the  city  said  :  "  Surely  this 
man  must  be  the  friend  of  God."  Wherefore  he  was  made 
governor  of  the  city  and  of  the  Sultan,  the  Sultan  being  of 
the  condition  above  mentioned.1  You  must  know  that  there 
are  generally  in  this  city  four  hundred  foreign  merchants, 
who  traffic  in  silks,  pearls,  jewels,  and  spices.  The  common 
food  of  this  city  consists  more  of  rice  than  of  bread,  because 
corn  does  not  grow  in  this  place. 




Having  heard  this  lamentable  event,  and  seen  the  customs 
of  the  abovenamed  city  and  island  of  Ormus,  departing 
thence  I  passed  into  Persia,  and  travelling  for  twelve  days 
I  found  a  city  called  Eri,3  and  the  country  is  called  Cora- 

1  I  have  not  succeeded  in  finding  any  historical  notices  corroborative 
of  the  events  recorded  in  this  chapter  ;  but  the  following  extract  from 
the  Histoire  des  Voyages,  referring  to  the  capture  of  the  island  by  Albu- 
querque in  1508,  four  years  subsequent  to  Varthema's  visit,  tends  to 
confirm  several  of  the  principal  facts  narrated  : — "  Albuquerque  trouva 
sur  le  trone  Sayf  Addin,  jeune  prince  d'environ  douze  ans,  dont  les 
affaires  etoient  gouvernees  par  un  esclave  adroit  et  courageux."  Vol.  i. 
p.  109. 

2  Eri  or  Heri  is  the  ancient  name  of  Herat,  and  the  question  is, 
whether  Varthema  means  that  city,  and,  if  so,  whether  he  personally 
visited  it.  His  description  is  sufficiently  accurate  to  warrant  an  in- 
ference in  the  affirmative.  Herat  at  the  time  was  the  capital  of  Khoras- 
san,  and  the  residence  of  Sultan  Husein  Mirza,  a  descendant  of  Timour. 
Its  commercial  and  general  prosperity  under  that  enlightened  ruler  has 
been  perpetuated  by  the  celebrated  historian  Khondemir,  and  the  natural 
resources  of  the  country  correspond  with  our  traveller's  account  of 
them.  Moreover,  Varthema  speaks  as  an  eye-witness,  and  thus  far  I 
have  not  discovered  a  single  instance  inclining  me  to  doubt  his  testimony 
as  such.  Besides,  there  appears  no  sufficient  reason  why,  if  he  had  not 
personally  visited  Herat,  he  should  not  have  described  it  as  he  does 

100  THE    TRAVELS    OF 

zani,  which  would  be  the  same  as  to  say  "  The  Ilomagna." 
The  king  of  Corazani  dwells  in  this  city,  where  there  is 
great  plenty,  and  an  abundance  of  stuffs,  and  especially 
of  silk,  so  that  in  one  day  you  can  purchase  here  three  thou- 
sand or  four  thousand  camel  loads  of  silk.  The  district  is 
most  abundant  in  articles  of  food,1  and  there  is  also  a  great 
market  for  rhubarb.2    I  have  seen  it  purchased  at  six  pounds 

Sarnarcand  in  a  subsequent  chapter,  wherein  he  repeatedly  states  that 
his  information  is  based  on  hearsay  and  the  authority  of  others. 

The  only  difficulty  is  the  time  occupied  by  our  traveller  in  performing 
the  journey.  The  distance  between  the  coast  opposite  Hormuz  and 
Herat  is  about  six  hundred  miles,  and,  according  to  Abd-er-Razzak's 
itinerary,  he  was  twenty-two  days  on  the  road.  True,  Varthema  says 
distinctly,  that,  after  travelling  twelve  days,  he  reached  Eri  ;  but  it  is  by 
no  means  clear  that  Hormuz  or  Bunder  Abbas  was  his  starting-point,  for 
he  first  "  passed  into  Persia,"  from  which  we  may  infer  that  he  had  pene- 
trated some  way  into  the  country  before  setting  out  for  Herat. 

In  the  following  chapter  Varthema  gives  an  account  of  his  route  from 
Herat  to  Shiraz,  which  he  accomplished  in  twenty  or  twenty-three  days, 
the  usual  length  of  the  caravan  journey  between  the  two  places.  That 
coincidence  may  be  fairly  considered  as  a  corroborative  proof  of  our 
traveller's  personal  visit  to  Herat. 

1  "  Herat  is  the  most  fertile  country  in  the  whole  of  Khorassan.  The 
suburbs  are  covered  with  rich  and  green  orchards,  producing  consider- 
able quantities  of  fruits.  Silk  is  a  native  production  of  Herat.  It  is 
produced  in  great  quantities,  and  is  exported  to  many  countries.     The 

wheat  is  of  many  kinds Cotton  is  abundantly  cultivated  in  Herat,  and 

sometimes  is  sent  to  Mashad.  Mash,  adas,  nakhud,  lemghash  or  niuth, 
shamled  or  halbah,  jawari  and  lobia,  are  also  among  its  productions. 
Sebist  andshaftal  grow  exuberantly,  and  are  given  to  horses.  Opium  is 
much  grown  here,  and  is  transported  to  Bokhara  and  other  places." 
Mohun  Lall's   Travels,  pp.  272-275. 

2  Herat  is  styled  by  the  natives  the  key  of  the  commerce  between 
Turkestan,  Afghanistan,  Persia,  and  India.  It  is  much  less  so  now 
than  it  was  formerly.  At  the  time  of  Varthema's  visit  it  is  highly 
probable  that  it  was  the  principal  highway  between  Mongolia  and 
Thibet,  the  chief  rhubarb-growing  countries,  and  the  West.  That  fact 
would  account  for  the  abundance  of  the  drug  found  in  the  market  of 
Herat.  Tavernier  mentions  a  northern  road  between  Bhutan  or  Lassa 
and  Cabul  ;  and  Bernier,  writing  in  1655,  says  :  "  It  is  not  yet  twenty 
years  that  there  went  caravans  every  year  from  Cashmere,  which  crossed 
all   those  mountains   of  the  great    Tibet,  and  arrived  in    about    three 


for  the  ducat,  according  to  our  use,  that  is,  twelve  ounces  to 
the  pound.  This  city  contains  about  6,000  or  7,000  hearths.1 
The  inhabitants  are  all  Mohammedans.  I  quitted  this  place 
and  travelled  twenty  days  on  the  mainland,  finding  cities 
and  castles  very  well  peopled. 


I  arrived  at  a  large  and  fine  river,  which  is  called  by  the 
people  there  Eufra,2  but,  so  far  as  1  can  judge,  I  believe 
that  it  is  the  Euphrates,  on  account  of  its  great  size.  Travel- 
ling onwards  for  three  days  to  the  left  hand,  but  following 
the  river,  I  found  a  city  which  is  named  Schirazo,  and  this 
city  receives  its  lord,  who  is  a  Persian  and  a  Mahommedan, 
from  the  Persians.  In  this  city  there  is  a  great  abundance 
of  jewels,  that  is,  of  turquoises,3  and  an  infinite  quantity  of 
Balass  rubies.     It  is  true  that  they  are  not  produced  here, 

months  at  Cataja... bringing  back  musk,  cinnamon,  rhubarb,  and  naa- 
rniron."  (Pinkerton's  Voyages,  vol.  viii.  p.  221.)  I  notice  in  the 
Description  of  Persia,  contained  in  the  same  Collection,  that  "  a  kind 
of  rhubarb,  with  which  they  purge  their  cattle,"  grows  in  that  country  ; 
but  the  writer  adds,  "  the  best  rhubarb  comes  from  China,  or  rather 
from  Eastern  Tartary."     Ibid.  vol.  ix.  p.  181. 

1  Ferrier  estimated  the  population  of  Herat  in  1845  at  from  20,000 
to  22,000  souls.     Caravan  Journeys,  p.  166. 

3  As  there  is  no  river  between  Herat  and  Shiraz  bearing  any  resem- 
blance in  name  to  that  above  mentioned,  I  am  inclined  to  think  that  if, 
as  is  very  probable,  his  route  was  by  Yezd,  Varthema  must  have  struck 
upon  the  Pulwan,  near  Merghab,  about  eighty  miles  to  the  north-east  of 
Shiraz,  from  which  point  there  appears  to  be  a  highroad  on  the  "  left 
hand,"  or  east,  of  that  river,  leading  to  the  latter  city  by  Istakar.  The 
Pulwan  flows  into  the  Bendemir,  which  is  a  rapid  stream  crossed  by  a 
bridge  three  hundred  feet  wide,  and  Varthema  must  have  passed  that 
also  before  reaching  Shiraz. 

3  Shiraz  is  a  great  mart  for  turquoises.  The  best  stones  are  found  in 
the  mountains  near  Nishapore  in  Khorassan.  Malcolm's  History  of 
Persia,  vol.  ii.  p.  515. 

102  THE    TRAVELS    OF 

but  come  (as  is  reported)  from  a  city  which  is  called  Balach- 
sam.  And  in  the  said  city  there  is  a  very  large  quantity 
of  ultra  marine,  and  much  tucia  and  musk.1  You  must 
know  that  musk  is  rarely  met  with  in  our  parts,  which  is  not 
adulterated.  The  fact  is  this,  for  I  have  seen  some  experi- 
ments on  this  wise.  Take  a  bladder  of  musk  in  the  morn- 
ing, fasting,  and  break  it,  and  let  three  or  four  men  in  file 
smell  it,  and  it  will  immediately  make  blood  flow  from  the 
nose,  and  this  happens  because  it  is  real  musk  and  not 
adulterated.  I  asked  how  long  its  goodness  continued. 
Some  merchants  answered  me:  "  That  if  it  were  not  adul- 
terated it  lasted  ten  years."  Upon  this  it  occurred  to  me 
that  that  which  comes  to  our  part  is  adulterated  by  the 
hands  of  these  Persians,  who  are  the  most  cunning  men  in 
intellect,  and  at  falsifying  things,  of  any  nation  in  the  world. 
And  I  likewise  will  say  of  them,  that  they  are  the  best  com- 
panions and  the  most  liberal  of  any  men  who  inhabit  the  earth. 
I  say  this  because  I  have  experienced  it  with  a  Persian  mer- 
chant whom  I  met  in  this  city  of  Schirazo.  However,  he  was 
of  the  city  of  Eri  above  mentioned,  in  Corazani.  This  same 
merchant  knew  me  two  years  previously  in  Mecca,  and  he 
said  to  me  :  "  Iunus,  what  are  you  doing  here  ?  Are  you 
not  he  who  some  time  ago  went  to  Mecca?"     I  answered 

1  Badakhshan,  in  the  Khanat  of  Kunduz,  is  still  famous  for  its  lapis 
lazuli  quarries  and  ruby  mines.  Tucia,  spodium  ;  or,  more  probably, 
ti'it/ja,  the  Persian  and  Arabic  name  for  antimony,  which  is  used  exten- 
sively in  the  preparation  of  the  kohl,  a  collyrium.  Antimony  is  said  to 
abound  in  Persia.  (Pinkekton's  Voyages,  vol.  ix.  p.  181.)  Musk  probably 
reached  Badakhshan  from  Thibet  and  Tartary,  where  the  best  quality 
is  found.  Pigafetta  writing  in  1522  says  :  "  The  grains  of  musk  brought 
to  Europe  are  no  other  than  small  pieces  of  goat's  flesh  steeped  in  real 
musk."  (Pinkekton,  vol.  xi.  p.  378.)  I  am  not  able  to  vouch  for  the 
truth  of  Varthema's  experiment,  but  it  is  well  known  that  "  some  per- 
sons, from  idiosyncrasy,  cannot  endure  the  remote  odour  of  musk  :  it 
produces  headache,  giddiness,  nausea,  and  fainting.  Drowsiness  and 
stupor  have  occasionally  been  induced  by  it  when  given  in  small  medici- 
nal doses."     Brande,  Dictionary  of  Materia  Medica. 


that  I  was,  and  that  I  was  going  about  exploring  the  world. 
He  answered  me  :  "  God  be  praised  !  for  I  shall  have  a  com- 
panion who  will  explore  the  world  with  me."  We  remained 
fifteen  days  in  the  same  city  of  Schirazo.  And  this  merchant, 
who  was  called  Cazazionor,1  said  :  "  Do  not  leave  me,  for  we 
will  explore  a  good  part  of  the  world."  And  thus  we  set 
ourselves  together  en  route  to  go  towards  Sambragante. 




The  merchants  say  that  the  present  Sambragante2  is  a  city 
as  large  as  Cairo.  The  king  of  the  said  city  is  a  Mohamme- 
dan. Some  merchants  say  that  he  has  sixty  thousand  horse- 
men, and  they  are  all  white  people  and  warlike.  We  did 
not  proceed  farther  ;  and  the  reason  was,  that  the  SofH 
was  going  through  this  country  putting  everything  to  fire 
and  flame  ;  and  especially  he  put  to  the  sword  all  those  who 
believed  in  Bubachar  and  Othman  and  Aumar,  who  are  all 
companions  of  Mahomet ;  but  he  leaves  unmolested  those 
who  believe  in  Mahomet  and  Ali,  and  protects  them.3  Then 

1  The  first  part  of  this  word  is  undoubtedly  Khawaja,  generally  ab- 
breviated into  K/wja,  equivalent  to  our  English  "  Mister." 

2  Samarcand. 

3  The  occurrence  of  these  fierce  religious  dissensions  between  the  two 
principal  sects  of  Islam  at  this  period  is  corroborated  by  contempo- 
raneous history.  Shah  Isma'il  es-Sufi,  the  founder  of  the  Sufawian 
dynasty,  attained  sovereign  power  over  Persia  and  Khorassan  about  a.d. 
1500.  Deeply  imbued  with  the  Shiah  doctrines  of  his  austere  father, 
Haidar,  who  had  endeavoured  to  revive  the  opinions  of  a  famous  Silfi 
derwish,  he  put  himself  at  the  head  of  his  adherents  when  only  fourteen 
years  old,  and,  taking  advantage  of  the  religious  enthusiasm  of  his  dis- 
ciples,eventually  succeeded  in  subjugating  the  whole  country,  and  in  con- 
verting the  great  mass  of  the  people  to  the  Shiah  creed.  This  was  not 
effected  without  great  strife  and  bloodshed,  and  Varthema's  visit  must 
have  occurred  when  the  contention  between  the  rival  factions  was  at  its 
height.      "  The  Persians  dwell  with  rapture  on  the  character  of  Isma'il, 

104  THE    TRAVELS    OF 

my  companion  said  to  me  :  "  Come  here,  Iunus  :  in  order 
that  you  may  be  certain  that  I  wish  you  well,  and  that  you 
may  have  reason  to  know  that  I  mean  to  exercise  good  fellow- 
ship towards  you,  I  will  give  you  a  niece  of  mine  who  is 
called  Samis,1  that  is,  the  Sun.  And  truly  she  had  a  name 
which  suited  her,  for  she  was  extremely  beautiful.  And  he 
said  to  me  further  :  "  You  must  know  now  that  I  do  not  travel 
about  the  world  because  I  am  in  want  of  wealth ;  but  I  go 
for  my  pleasure,  and  in  order  to  see  and  to  know  many 
things."  And  with  this  we  set  ourselves  on  our  way,  and 
returned  towards  Eri.  When  we  had  arrived  at  his  house, 
he  immediately  shewed  me  his  said  niece,  with  whom  I  pre- 
tended to  be  greatly  pleased,  although  my  mind  was  intent 
on  other  things.  We  returned  to  the  city  of  Ormus  at  the 
end  of  eight  days,  and  embarked  on  board  ship,  and  steered 
towards  India,  and  arrived  at  a  port  which  is  called  Cheo.2 

whom  they  deem  not  only  the  founder  of  a  great  dynasty,  but  the  per- 
son to  whom  that  faith,  in  which  they  glory,  owes  its  establishment  as  a 
national  religion.  He  is  styled  in  their  histories  Shah  Shian,  or  '  the 
King  of  the  Sheahs.'  "     Malcolm's  History  of  Persia,  vol.  i.  p.  505. 

1  Shams,  the  sun. 

2  As  it  is  evident  from  the  succeeding  chapter  that  this  place  was  in 
Scind,  I  find  no  difficulty  in  identifying  it  with  Jooa  (sometimes  written 
Joah,  Joaah,  and  Kow),  one  of  the  estuaries  or  creeks  of  the  Indus. 
Dr.  Ileddle,  in  his  memoirs  of  that  river,  describes  the  raj  or  village  of 
Joah  as  four  miles  and  a  half  from  the  sea  by  the  winding  of  the  stream. 
The  largest  sized  native  boats,  which  frequent  this  branch  of  the  river 
for  grain,  are  obliged  to  remain  there,  and  their  cargoes  are  brought 
down  in  flat-bottomed  boats,  called  doondies."  Bombay  Government 
Selections,  No.  xvii.  pp.  434-5. 




Having  promised  at  the  commencement,  if  I  remember 
rightly,  to  treat  all  subjects  with  brevity,  in  order  that  my 
narrative  might  not  be  wearisome,  I  will  continue  to  relate 
concisely  those  things  which  appeared  to  me  the  most  worthy 
to  be  known,  and  the  most  interesting. 

We  entered  India  where,  near  to  the  said  port  [Cheo],  there 
is  a  very  large  river  called  the  Indus,  which  Indus  is  near  to  a 
city  called  Combeia.  This  city  is  situated  three  miles  inland, 
and  to  the  south  of  the  said  Indus.  You  must  know  that 
you  cannot  go  to  the  said  city  either  with  large  or  middling- 
sized  ships,  excepting  at  high  water.  There  is  a  river  which 
goes  to  the  said  city,  and  the  tide  flows  up  three  or  four 
miles.1    You  must  know  that  the  waters  rise  in  the  reverse 

1  Varthema  appears  to  have  had  very  confused  notions  respecting  the 
relative  positions  of  Cambay  (more  correctly,  Khumbdyut)  and  the 
Indus.  This  is  not  surprising,  since  Philip  Baldseus,  writing  a  century 
and  a  half  later,  describes  it  as  "  situated  at  the  entrance  of  one  of  the 
largest  channels  of  that  river."  (Collection  of  Voyages,  vol.  iii.  p. 
566.)  Nicold  de'  Conti,  who  preceded  our  traveller  by  fifty  years,  places  it 
more  accurately  "  in  the  second  gulf  after  having  passed  the  mouth  of 
the  Indus."  {India  in  the  Fifteenth  Century,  iii.  p.  19.)  However,  he 
correctly  locates  it  to  the  south  of  the  Indus,  and  near  another  river, 
which  was  undoubtedly  the  Myhee,  and  his  description  of  that  estuary  is 
confirmed  by  the  following  extract  from  Horsburgh  : — "  Opposite  the 


106  THE    TRAVELS    OF 

way  to  ours  ;  for  with  us  they  rise  when  the  moon  is  at  the 
full,  but  they  increase  here  when  the  moon  is  on  the  wane.1 
This  city  of  Combeia  is  walled,  after  our  fashion  ;  and  truly 
it  is  a  most  excellent  city,  abounding  in  grain  and  very  good 
fruits.  In  this  district  there  are  eight  or  nine  kinds  of  small 
spices,  that  is  to  sa}r,  turbidi,  gallanga,  spiconardo,  saphetica, 

city  of  Cambay,  seven  or  eight  miles  from  the  sea,  the  width  is  probably 
about  three  miles,  and  the  water  is  so  shallow  from  side  to  side,  at  low 
water  spring  tides,  that  the  ground  is  left  almost  dry,  and  navigation 
is  impracticable  even  for  the  smallest  boats."  India  Directory,  vol. 
i.  p.  475. 

1  This  is  an  error  iuto  which  Varthema  may  have  been  led  by  the 
accounts  which  he  heard,  or  by  his  own  limited  observation,  of  the  pecu- 
liar and  extraordinary  tides  in  the  Gulf  of  Cambay,  called  the  Bore, 
which  is  thus  described  by  the  late  Captain  Ethersey  of  the  Indian  navy  : 
"  The  eastern  or  principal  Bore  rises  five  miles  to  the  W.S.W.  of  Cambay 
Creek,  and  is  not  perceptible  on  the  neaps  without  the  previous  springs 
have  been  very  high,  when  it  may  be  observed  slightly  through  the 
quarter.  It  generally  commences  when  the  springs  begin  to  lift,  the 
wave  increasing  daily  in  height  as  the  tides  gain  strength,  and  is  at  its 
greatest  height  about  two  days  after  the  new  and  full  moon.  Its  height 
depends  upon  the  position  of  the  moon  with  respect  to  the  earth,  and 
consequently  on  the  rise  and  strength  of  the  tide;  for  at  new  moon, 
when  she  is  in  perigee,  at  which  time  the  highest  tides  occur,  the  wave 
of  the  Bore  will  be  the  greatest ;  and  at  full  moon,  when  she  is  in  apo- 
gee, and  the  low  tides  lower  than  any  other  springs,  it  will  be  least.  It 
also  varies  with  the  night  and  day  tide,  because  the  higher  the  tide  the 
greater  is  its  velocity;  and  as  the  two  tides  differ  from  six  to  eight  feet, 
and  still  the  flood  of  both  runs  the  same  length  of  time,  the  highest  tide 
must  have  the  greatest  velocity;  and  hence  the  wave  of  the  Bore  will  be 
highest  with  the  greatest  tide."  {Bombay  Government  Selections,  No. 
xvii.  p.  87.)  Dr.  Vincent  recognizes  the  Bore  in  the  account  which  the 
author  of  the  Periplus  gives  of  the  navigation  of  the  Gulf  of  Cambay 
{Commerce  and  Navigation  of  the  Ancients,  etc.,  vol.  ii.  p.  396);  and  so 
imposing  is  its  appearance,  and  so  striking  its  effects,  that  we  cannot  be 
surprised  at  the  notice  which  it  attracted  from  the  early  travellers  to 
India.  Forbes  says  :  "  The  first  rush  of  the  spring  tide  is  irresistible  in 
its  force,  and  affords  a  scene  which  only  an  eyewitness  can  fully  realize. 
A  perpendicular  wall  of  water,  three  or  four  feet  in  height,  and  extend- 
ing across  the  Gulf  as  far  as  the  eye  can  reach,  approaches  at  the  rate 
of  twelve  miles  an  hour  in  speed,  and  with  an  alarming  noise,  carrying 
certain  destruction  to  the  mariner  whose  ignorance  or  foolhardiness  leads 
him  to  neglect  its  warning  voice."     Ras  Mala,  vol.  i.  p.  319. 


and  lacra,1  with  other  spices,  the  names  of  which  I  do  not 
remember.  An  immense  quantity  of  cotton  is  produced  here, 
so  that  every  year  forty  or  fifty  vessels  are  laden  with  cotton 
and  silk  stuffs,  which  stuffs  are  carried  into  different  countries. 
In  this  kingdom  of  Combeia  also,  about  six  days'  journey, 
there  is  the  mountain  whence  cornelians  are  extracted,  and 
the  mountain  of  chalcedonies.  Nine  days'  journey  from 
Combeia  there  is  another  mountain  in  which  diamonds  are 


We  will  now  declare  the  estate  and  condition  of  the  sultan 
of  this  Combeia,  who  is  called  the  Sultan  Machamuth.   About 

1  The  Latin  version  of  Varthema  omits  all  these  names.  The  Italian 
edition  in  Ramuslo  has  "  turbitti,  galanga,  spico  nardo,  assa  fetida,  e 
lacca."  The  first  is  the  well  known  drug  turbith,  the  root  of  a  species 
of  convolvulus  (C.  Turpethum,  L.)  which  is  found  throughout  India, 
and  also  in  the  islands  of  the  South  Sea.  I  find  it  enumerated  under 
that  name  in  a  list  of  drugs  purchased  by  Captain  John  Saris  in  1612 
from  the  captain  of  a  native  vessel  which  had  arrived  at  Mokha  from 
Surat.  Galanga,  according  to  Baretti,  is  a  kind  of  arrow-root  used 
medicinally.  Spikenard  and  assafostida  are  well  known  Indian  drugs. 
Lacca  is,  doubtless,  the  dye  produced  by  the  lac  insect,  of  which  Dr. 
Buchanan  gives  a  full  account  in  his  Journey  through  Mysore,  Canara, 
and  Malabar.  (See  Pinkerton's  Voyages,  vol.  viii.  pp.  760-1.)  Nicolo 
de'  Conti,  writing  of  Cambay,  says  :  "  it  abounds  in  spikenard,  lac, 
indigo,  myrobalans,  and  silk  ;"  and  Nikitin  mentions  "lek  daakyk  dalon" 
as  among  its  produce.  These  latter  I  take  to  be,  lac  ;  'akeeh,  the  Arabic 
for  agates ;  and  ddl,  the  Hindostani  for  lentils,  phaseolus  aconitifolius. 
(See  India  in  the  Fifteenth  Century,  ii.  p.  20  ;  iii.  p.  19.) 

2  Cambay  is  still  famous  for  agates,  cornelians,  and  onyxes,  which  are 
wrought  into  a  great  variety  of  ornaments.  The  best  agates  and  corne- 
lians are  found  in  a  peculiar  stratum,  about  thirty  feet  below  the  sur- 
face, in  a  small  tract  among  the  Rajpeepla  Hills,  on  the  banks  of  the 
Nerbudda,  about  seventy  miles  to  the  south-east  of  Cambay.  I  am  not 
aware  of  any  diamond  mines  existing  in  or  about  Guzerat.  Probably 
those  at  Golconda  are  indicated. 

108  THE    TRAVELS    OF 

forty  years  ago  he  captured  this  kingdom  from  a  king  of  the 
Guzerati,  which  Guzerati  are  a  certain  race  which  eats 
nothing  that  has  blood,  and  never  kills  any  living  thing.  And 
these  same  people  are  neither  Moors  nor  heathens.1  It  is  my 

'  The  Sultan  at  the  time  was  Fath  Khan,  entitled  Mahmud  Bigarrah, 
who  began  to  reign  a.d.  1459  and  died  in  1511 ;  but  our  author  is  not 
so  correct  in  his  history  of  the  succession.  Guzerat  became  independent 
of  Delhi  under  Dhafir  Khan,  who  assumed  the  sovereignty  of  the  pro- 
vince in  1408.  For  obvious  reasons  that  event  does  not  tally  with  the 
occurrence  referred  to  by  Varthema.  The  mention  of  "  a  king  of  the 
Guzerattis",  who  was  neither  a  Moor  nor  a  Heathen,  inclines  me  to 
think  that  he  distorted  the  accounts  which  he  had  heard  of  Mahmud 
Khan's  successful  wars  with  some  of  the  native  princes  into  the  apocry- 
phal statement  respecting  the  time  and  manner  of  his  accession  to 
supreme  power.  The  most  probable  event  in  the  history  of  that  sove- 
reign which  may  have  led  to  this  misapprehension,  was  his  final  capture 
of  the  strong  forts  of  Girnar  and  Janagarh  from  Rao  Mandalik  in  1472. 
Those  fortresses  are  in  Kattywar,  a  province  of  Guzerat,  and  appear  to 
have  been  inhabited  at  the  time  chiefly  by  Jains.  Writing  of  Girnar, 
Postans  says  :  "  The  whole  of  this  extraordinary  mount  is  invested  with 
peculiar  sanctity,  the  origin  of  which  would  seem  to  be  of  high  antiquity. 
That  the  present  system  of  worship  would  seem  to  be  a  graft  of  the 
ancient  Buddhist  faith  which  obtained  here,  there  can  be  no  doubt. 
The  edicts  of  Pyadasi  testify  abundantly  that  the  hill  of  Girinagar  and 
its  neighbourhood  was  originally  a  stronghold  of  the  Monotheists,  whose 
form  of  worship  has  now  degenerated  into  the  modern  system  of  Jain- 
ism."  {Notes  on  a  Journey  to  Girnar,  p.  882.)  I  am  the  more  inclined 
to  draw  the  foregoing  inference  from  Varthema's  description  of  the 
creed  and  habits  of  the  people  to  whom  he  refers  ;  for  the  Jains  generally, 
who  are  numerous  in  and  about  Cambay,  are  very  careful  of  animal  life. 
The  Shravakas,  one  of  the  Jain  castes,  have  many  Pinjreepols,  or  hos- 
pitals for  animals  and  reptiles,  however  vile.  They  have  also  another 
peculiar  establishment  called  a  Jevkotee.  This  is  a  dome,  with  a  door 
large  enough  at  the  top  for  a  man  to  creep  in.  In  these  repositories 
wevils,  and  other  insects  which  the  Shravakas  may  find  in  their  grain, 
are  provided  with  food  by  their  charity  and  extraordinary  protection 
to  everything  containing  life.  Moreover,  they  profess  to  worship  the 
Supreme  being  alone,  and  wholly  reject  the  agency  of  Devtas  and  the 
Aryhuntas,  or  Gooroos.  (See  Bombay  Government  Selections,  No.  xxxix. 
p.  342-5.)  Fitch  notices  the  Pinjreepoles.  He  says  :  "  In  Cambaia  they 
will  kill  nothing,  nor  have  anything  killed.  In  the  town  they  have 
hospitals  to  keep  lame  dogs  and  cats,  and  for  birds.  They  will  give 
meat  to  the  ants."     Pinkehton's  Voyaaes,  vol.  ix.  p.  409. 


opinion  that  if  they  were  baptized,  they  would  all  be  saved 
by  virtue  of  their  works,  for  they  never  do  to  others  what 
they  would  not  that  others  should  do  unto  them.  Their 
dress  is  this  :  some  wear  a  shirt,  and  some  go  naked,  with 
the  exception  of  a  piece  of  cloth  about  their  middle,  having 
nothing  on  their  feet  or  on  their  legs.  On  their  heads  they 
wear  a  large  red  cloth  ;  and  they  are  of  a  tawny  colour.  And 
for  this,  their  goodness,  the  aforesaid  sultan  took  from  them 
their  kingdom. 

You  shall  now  hear  the  manner  of  living  of  this  Sultan 
Machamuth.  In  the  first  place  he  is  a  Mohammedan,  toge- 
ther with  all  his  people.  He  has  constantly  twenty  thousand 
horsemen.  In  the  morning,  when  he  rises,  there  come  to 
his  palace  fifty  elephants,  on  each  of  which  a  man  sits  astride  ; 
and  the  said  elephants  do  reverence  to  the  sultan,  and  they 
have  nothing  else  to  do.  So  in  like  manner  when  he  has 
risen  from  his  bed.  And  when  he  eats,  there  are  fifty  or 
sixty  kinds  of  instruments,  namely,  trumpets,  drums  of  several 
sorts,  and  flageolets,  and  fifes,  with  many  others,  which  for 
the  sake  of  brevity  I  forbear  mentioning.  When  the  sultan 
eats,  the  said  elephants  again  do  reverence  to  him.  When 
the  proper  time  shall  come,  I  will  tell  you  of  the  intelligence 
and  understanding  which  these  animals  possess.  The  said 
sultan  has  mustachios  under  his  nose  so  long  that  he  ties 
them  over  his  head  as  a  woman  would  tie  her  tresses,  and 
he  has  a  white  beard  which  reaches  to  his  girdle.1  Every 
day  he  eats  poison.  Do  not,  however,  imagine  that  he  fills 
his  stomach  with  it ;  but  he  eats  a  certain  quantity,  so  that 
when  he  wishes  to  destroy  any  great  personage  he  makes 
him  come  before  him   stripped   and    naked,  and   then  eats 

1  'Ali  Muhammed  Khan,  in  his  History  of  Guzerat,  gives  the  follow- 
ing account  of  Sultan  Mahmud  : — "  Regarding  his  surname  of  Bigarrah, 
the  people  of  Guzerat  say,  that  each  of  his  mustachios  being  large  and 
twisted  like  a  cow's  horn,  and  such  a  cow  being  called  Bigarrah,  they 
thus  obtained  for  him  the  name."     Bird's   Translation,  pp.  202-3. 

110  THE    TRAVELS    OF 

certain  fruits  which  are  called  chofole,  which  resemble  a 
muscatel  nut.  He  also  eats  certain  leaves  of  herbs,  which 
are  like  the  leaves  of  the  sour  orange,  called  by  some  tam- 
boli;  and  then  he  eats  some  lime  of  oyster  shells,  together 
with  the  above  mentioned  things.  When  he  has  masticated 
them  well,  and  has  his  mouth  full,  he  spurts  it  out  upon  that 
person  whom  he  wishes  to  kill,  so  that  in  the  space  of  half 
an  hour  he  falls  to  the  ground  dead.  This  sultan  has  also 
three  or  four  thousand  women,  and  every  night  that  he  sleeps 
with  one  she  is  found  dead  in  the  morning.1  Every  time 
that  he  takes  off  his  shirt,  that  shirt  is  never  again  touched 
by  any  one  ;  and  so  of  his  other  garments  ;  and  every  day 
he  chooses  new  garments.  My  companion  asked  how  it  was 
that  this  sultan  eats  poison  in  this  manner.  Certain  mer- 
chants, who  were  older  than  the  sultan,  answered  that  his 
father  had  fed  him  upon  poison  from  his  childhood. 

Let  us  leave  the  sultan,  and  return  to   our  journey,  that 

1  A  similar  account  is  repeated  by  Odoardo  Barbosa,  who  appears  to 
have  visited  Carabay  shortly  after  Mahroud  Khan's  death.  He  says  : 
"  I  have  heard  that  he  was  brought  up  from  childhood  to  take  poison  ; 
for  his  father  fearing  that,  in  accordance  with  the  usage  of  the  country, 
he  migbt  be  killed  by  that  means,  took  this  precaution  against  such  a 
catastrophe.  He  began  to  make  him  eat  of  it  in  small  doses,  gradually 
increasing  them,  until  he  could  take  a  large  quantity,  whereby  he  be- 
came so  poisonous,  that  if  a  fly  lighted  on  his  hand,  it  swelled  and  died 
incontinently,  and  many  of  the  women  with  whom  he  slept  died  from 
the  same  cause."  (Rajmusio,  vol.  i.  pp.  204-5.)  Varthema  seems  to  have 
believed  further,  that  Mahinud's  spittle,  after  masticating  the  Betel  leaf, 
in  conjunction  with  the  fruit  of  the  Areca  palm  and  fine  lime,  was  fatal 
to  any  upon  whom  his  Majesty  might  choose  to  eject  it.  Beyond  the 
fact  that  he  was  an  enormous  eater,  I  can  find  nothing  to  substantiate 
these  fabulous  statements,  which  remind  us  of  Mithridates,  and  of  the 
Arabian  Nights.  The  author  of  the  Miraiit  Sikandari,  quoted  by  'Ali 
Muhammed  Khan,  says  :  "  Sultan  Mahmud  was  the  best  of  all  the  Guze- 
rat  kings,  on  account  of  his  great  justice  and  beneficence,  his  honouring 
and  observing  all  the  Muhammedan  laws,  and  for  the  solidity  of  his 
judgment,  whether  in  great  or  small  matters.  He  attained  a  great 
age,  and  was  distinguished  for  strength,  bravery,  and  liberality."  Bum's 
Translation,  p.  203. 


is,  to  the  men  of  the  said  city,  the  greater  part  of  whom  go 
about  in  a  shirt,  and  are  very  warlike  and  great  merchants. 
It  is  impossible  to  describe  the  excellence  of  the  country. 
About  three  hundred  ships  of  different  countries  come  and 
go  here.  This  city,  and  another  of  which  I  will  speak  at  the 
proper  season,  supply  all  Persia,  Tartary,  Turkey,  Syria, 
Barbary,  that  is  Africa,  Arabia  Felix,  Ethiopia,  India,  and  a 
multitude  of  inhabited  islands,  with  silk  and  cotton  stuffs. 
So  that  this  sultan  lives  with  vast  riches,  and  fights  with  a 
neighbouring  king,  who  is  called  king  of  the  Ioghe,  distant 
from  this  city  fifteen  days'  journey. 

AND    CUSTOMS    OF    THE    KING    OF   THE    JOGHE. 

This  king  of  the  Ioghe1  is  a  man  of  great  dignity,  and  has 
about  thirty  thousand  people,  and  is  a  pagan,  he  and  all  his 
subjects ;  and  by  the  pagan  kings  he  and  his  people  are  con- 
sidered to  be  saints,  on  account  of  their  lives,  which  you 
shall  hear.  It  is  the  custom  of  this  king  to  go  on  a  pilgrim- 
age once  in  every  three  or  four  years,  like  a  pilgrim,  that 
is,  at  the  expense  of  others,  with  three  or  four  thousand  of 
his  people,  and  with  his  wife  and  children.     And  he  takes 

1  I  am  unable  to  identify  this  "  king  of  the  Ioghe"  ( Joghees),  with 
whom  Sultan  Mahmud  is  said  to  have  been  at  war.  No  dependance  can 
be  placed  on  Varthema's  names  and  distances  when  given  on  the  report 
of  others.  In  this  instance  he  probably  indicates  the  Rajah  of  Eedur 
in  the  Myhee  Kanta,  against  whom  Mahmud  marched  with  a  large 
force  in  1494,  and  between  the  Koolee  Rajahs  of  which  place  and  the 
sovereigns  of  Guzerat  there  was  a  succession  of  fierce  contests  from  a.d. 
1400  till  the  latter  country  became  a  province  of  Akbar's  empire  in  1583. 
(See  Bird's  Translation  of  the  Mirdt  Ahmadi,  pp.  121,  137,  222,  266, 
325.     Also  Forbes's  Ras  Mala,  vol.  i.  pp.  378,  381,  385,  et  seq.) 

Perhaps  the  place  of  pilgrimage  referred  to  by  Varthema  was  the 
famous  Buddhist  shrine  (Boodkhana)  at  Perwuttum,  which  Nikitin 
describes  as  "  the 'Jerusalem  of  the  Hindoos,  where  people  from  all  parts 
of  India  congregate."     India  in  the  Fifteenth  Century,  iii.  p.  16. 

112  THE    TRAVELS    OF 

four  or  five  coursers,  and  civet-cats,  apes,  parrots,  leopards, 
and  falcons  ;  and  in  this  way  he  goes  through  the  whole  of 
India.  His  dress  is  a  goat  skin,  that  is,  one  before  and  one 
behind,  with  the  hair  outwards.  His  colour  is  dark  tawny, 
for  the  people  here  begin  to  be  more  dark  than  white.  They 
all  wear  a  great  quantity  of  jewels,  and  pearls,  and  other  pre- 
cious stones,  in  their  ears,  and  they  go  dressed  a  Vapostolica} 
and  some  wear  shirts.  The  king  and  some  of  the  more  noble 
have  the  face  and  arms  and  the  whole  body  powdered  over 
with  ground  sandal-wood  and  other  most  excellent  scents. 
Some  of  these  people  adopt  as  an  act  of  devotion  the  custom 
of  never  sitting  on  any  high  seat ;  others,  as  an  act  of  devo- 
tion, never  sit  on  the  ground  ;  others  adopt  the  custom  of 
never  lying  at  full  length  on  the  ground ;  others,  again,  that 
of  never  speaking.  These  always  go  about  with  three  or 
four  companions,  who  wait  upon  them.  All  generally  carry 
a  little  horn  at  their  neck  ;  and  when  they  go  into  a  city 
they  all  in  company  sound  the  said  little  horns,  and  this  they 
do  when  they  wish  alms  to  be  given  to  them.  When  the 
king  does  not  go,  they  go  at  least  three  or  four  hundred  at  a 
time,  and  remain  in  a  city  three  days,  in  the  manner  of  the 
Singani.2  Some  of  them  carry  a  stick  with  a  ring  of  iron  at 
the  base.  Others  carry  certain  iron  dishes  which  cut  all 
round  like  razors,  and  they  throw  these  with  a  sling  when  they 
wish  to  injure  any  person  ;  and,  therefore,  when  these  people 
arrive  at  any  city  in  India,  every  one  tries  to  please  them  ; 
for  should  they  even  kill  the  first  nobleman  of  the  land,  they 
would  not  suffer  any  punishment  because  they  say  that  they 
are  saints.3    The  country  of  these  people  is  not  very  fertile  ; 

1  We  have  here  the  same  expression  as  in  page  78.  On  second 
thoughts,  I  am  inclined  to  think  that  Varthema  borrows  his  figure  from 
the  Roman  toga,  in  which  the  old  Italian  artists  generally  represent  the 
Apostles.  Not  an  inapt  comparison  with  the  manner  in  which  the  com- 
mon people  of  India  frequently  wear  the  langhHti. 

~  Zingani,  gipsies  (?). 

8  By  no  means  an  exaggerated  account  of  the  austerities  practised  by 


they  even  suffer  from  dearth  of  provisions.  There  are  more 
mountains  than  plains.  Their  habitations  are  very  poor,  and 
they  have  no  walled  places.1  Many  jewels  come  into  our 
parts  by  the  hands  of  these  people,  because  through  the 
liberty  they  enjoy,  and  their  sanctity,  they  go  where  jewels 
are  produced,  and  carry  them  into  other  countries  without 
any  expense.  Thus,  having  a  strong  country,  they  keep  the 
Sultan  Machamuth  at  war. 


Departing  from  the  said  city  of  Combeia,  I  travelled  on 
until  I  arrived  at  another  city  named  Cevul,2  which  is  distant 

some  of  the  Joghee  Fakirs,  and  of  the  estimation  in  which  they  were 
held  by  their  co-religionists.  On  this  occasion,  Varthemais  more  modest 
in  his  description  than  either  Bernier  or  Hamilton,  who  descend  to  the 
most  disgusting  particulars  in  the  habits  of  these  filthy  ascetics.  See 
Pinkerton's    Voyages,  vol.  viii.  pp.  180,  317-8. 

1  This  description  of  the  country  inhabited  by  Varthema's  "  Ioghe" 
confirms  me  in  the  impression  that  the  Myhee  Canta  is  indicated. 

2  Chaul,  Choul,  or  Chowul,  a  town  and  seaport  of  the  Northern  Concan, 
in  the  British  district  of  Tanuah,  twenty-three  miles  south  of  Bombay. 
It  appears  to  have  been  a  place  of  considerable  trade  in  former  times. 
Nikitin,  the  Russian  traveller,  who  calls  it  Chivil,  visited  it  about  thirty- 
five  years  before  Varthema,  and  describes  the  manners  of  the  inhabitants 
much  as  he  does  :  "  People  go  about  naked,  with  their  heads  uncovered, 
and  bare  breasts. ..Their  fcniaz  [prince]  wears  a,  fata  [a  large  silken  gar- 
ment] on  the  head,  and  another  on  the  loins;  the  boyars  wear  it  on  the 
shoulders  and  on  the  loins,  [Varthema's  alia  apostolicha.]  The  servants 
of  the  hniaz  and  of  the  boyars  attach  the  fata  round  the  loins,  carrying 
in  the  hand  a  shield  and  a  sword,  or  a  scimitar,  or  knives,  or  a  sabre,  or 
a  bow  and  arrows;  but  all  naked  and  barefooted."  {India  in  the  XVth. 
Century,  iii.  8,  9.)  Ralph  Fitch,  who  was  at  Chaul  in  1583,  after  its 
capture  by  the  Portuguese,  says  :  "  Here  is  great  traffic  for  all  sorts  of 
spices  and  drugs,  silk  and  cloth  of  silk,  sandals,  and  elephants'  teeth." 
The  trade  had  fallen  off  considerably  in  Hamilton's  time,  for  he  says : 
"the  place  is  now  miserably  poor."  Pinkerton's  Voyages,  ix.  p.  408; 
viii.  p.  351. 

114  THE    TRAVELS    OF 

from  the  above-mentioned  city  twelve  days'  journey,  and 
the  country  between  the  one  and  the  other  of  these  cities  is 
called  Guzerati.  The  king  of  this  Cevul  is  a  pagan.  The 
people  are  of  a  dark  tawny  colour.  As  to  their  dress,  with 
the  exception  of  some  Moorish  merchants,  some  wear  a 
shirt,  and  some  go  naked,  with  a  cloth  round  their  middle, 
Avith  nothing  on  their  feet  or  head.  The  people  are  war- 
like :  their  arms  are  swords,  bucklers,  bows  and  spears  made 
of  reeds  and  wood,  and  they  possess  artillery.  This  city  is 
extremely  well  walled,  and  is  distant  from  the  sea  two  miles. 
It  possesses  an  extremely  beautiful  river,  by  which  a  very 
great  number  of  foreign  vessels  go  and  return,  because  the 
country  abounds  in  everything  excepting  grapes,  nuts,  and 
chestnuts.  They  collect  here  an  immense  quantity  of  grain, 
of  barley,  and  of  vegetables  of  every  description  ;  and 
cotton  stuffs  are  manufactured  here  in  great  abundance.  I 
do  not  describe  their  faith  here,  because  their  creed  is  the 
same  as  that  of  the  king  of  Calicut,  of  which  I  will  give 
you  an  account  when  the  proper  time  shall  come.  There 
are  in  this  city  a  very  great  number  of  Moorish  merchants. 
The  atmosphere  begins  here  to  be  more  warm  than  cold. 
Justice  is  extremely  well  administered  here.  This  king  has 
not  many  fighting  men.  The  inhabitants  here  have  horses, 
oxen,  and  cows,  in  great  abundance. 


Having  seen  Cevul  and  its  customs,  departing  thence,  I 
went  to  another  city,  distant  from  it  two  days'  journey, 
which  is  called  Dabuli,1  which  city  is  situated  on  the  bank  of 

1  Situated  in  the  British  district  of  Rutnagherry,  in  lat.  17°  34'  N., 
long.  73°  16'  E.,  on  the  northern  bank  of  the  river  Washishtee,  (called 
llalewacko  and  Kaleivacko  by  the  earlier  navigators),  and  about  two  miles 
from  its  mouth  :  apparently  a  place  of  little  consequence  now,  as  it  is 


a  very  great  river.  This  city  is  surrounded  by  walls  in  our 
manner,  and  is  extremely  good.  The  country  resembles 
that  above  described.  There  are  Moorish  merchants  here 
in  very  great  numbers.  The  king  of  this  place  [Dabuli]  is  a 
pagan,  and  possesses  about  thirty  thousand  fighting  men, 
but  according  to  the  manner  of  Cevul  before  mentioned. 
This  king  is  also  a  very  great  observer  of  justice.  The 
country,  the  mode  of  living,  the  dress,  and  the  customs,  re- 
semble those  of  the  aforesaid  city  of  Cevul. 


I  departed  from  the  city  of  Dabuli  aforesaid,  and  went  to 
another  island,  which  is  about  a  mile  distant  from  the  main- 
land, and  is  called  Goga,1  and  which  pays  annually  to  the 
king  of  Decan  ten  thousand  golden  ducats,  called  by  them 
pardai.  These  pardai  are  smaller  than  the  seraphim  of 
Cairo,  but  thicker,  and  have  two  devils  stamped  upon  one 

not  mentioned  by  Thornton,  but  formerly  one  of  the  principal  seaports 
of  Bijapur.  There  'Adil  Shah  landed  from  the  island  of  Hormuz  in  1458, 
and  thither  an  ambassador  from  Persia  was  escorted  from  the  capital, 
on  his  return  homeward,  in  1519.  (Scott's  Ferishta,  vol.  i.  pp.  209,  258.) 
Nikitin  describes  it  as  a  very  large  town  and  an  extensive  seaport,  "  the 
meeting-place  for  all  nations  navigating  the  coasts  of  India  and  Ethi- 
opia." It  was  captured  by  the  Portuguese  under  General  Almeida  in 
1508.  When  Mandeslo  visited  it  in  1639,  its  fortifications  had  been 
mostly  demolished  (lib.  ii.  p.  243)  ;  and  fifty  years  later  its  importance 
as  a  seaport  appears  to  have  been  a  thing  of  the  past ;  for  Hamilton, 
after  indicating  its  situation  at  the  mouth  of  a  large  river,  merely  adds  : 
"  it  was  of  old  a  place  of  trade,  and  where  the  English  once  had  a  fac- 
tory."    Pinkerton's  Voyages,  vol.  viii.  p.  350. 

1  The  island  of  Goa,  (Ibn  Batuta  writes  it  "  Kawah"),  now  belonging 
to  the  Portuguese,  but  at  that  time  a  dependency  of  the  Muhammedan 
kingdom  of  the  Deccan.  The  place  was  surprised  and  captured  by  the 
Portuguese  under  Albuquerque  in  1510  ;  but  they  were  expelled  shortly 
after  by  'Adil  Shah,  the  reigning  sovereign.    It  was  retaken  by  them,  the 

116  THE    TRAVELS    OF 

side  of  them,  and  certain  letters  on  the  other.1  In  this  island 
there  is  a  fortress  near  the  sea,  walled  round  after  our  man- 
ner, in  which  there  is  sometimes  a  captain,  who  is  called. 
Savain,  who  has  four  hundred  Mamelukes,  he  himself  being 
also  a  Mameluke.  When  the  said  captain  can  procure  any- 
white  man,  he  gives  him  very  great  pay,  allotting  him  at 
least  fifteen  or  twenty  pardai  per  month.  Before  he  in- 
scribes him  in  the  list  of  able  men,  he  sends  for  two  tunics 
made  of  leather,  one  for  himself  and  the  other  for  him  who 
wishes  to  enlist ;  each  puts  on  his  tunic,  and  they  fall  to 
blows.  If  he  finds  him  to  be  strong,  he  puts  him  in  the  list 
of  able  men  ;  if  not,  he  sets  him  to  some  other  work  than 
that  of  fighting.  This  captain,  with  four  hundred  Mame- 
lukes, wages  a  great  war  with  the  king  of  Narsinga,2  of 
whom  we  will  speak  at  the  proper  season.  I  departed 
thence,  and,  travelling  for  seven  days  on  the  mainland,  I 
arrived  at  a  city  which  is  called  Decan. 

year  following,  from  'Adil  Shah's  successor,  and  has  remained  in  their 
possession  ever  since.  It  does  not  appear  to  have  been  a  great  mart  of 
trade  prior  to  the  Portuguese  conquest,  but  its  commerce  increased  con- 
siderably during  the  early  period  of  their  domination.  Ralph  Fitch, 
who  visited  Goain  1583,  says:  "there  are  many  merchants  of  all  nations." 
It  has  now  fallen  into  a  hopeless  state  of  decay. 

1  Pardao  or  pertab.  The  same  coin  appears  to  have  been  called  also 
a  hun.  According  to  Prinsep,  it  generally  bore  the  figures  of  Siva  and 
Parbati  on  one  side,  and  a  pyramidal  temple  on  the  others  :  hence  its 
name  of  pagoda  among  Europeans ;  but  among  Marsden's  Coins  of 
Southern  India,  there  is  one  on  plate  xlviii.  No.  mlxxii.,  which  in  size 
and  superscription  agrees  with  that  mentioned  by  Varthema,  having  on 
the  one  side  the  double  figure  of  Siva  and  Parbati,  and  on  the  obverse  a 
legend  shewing  it  to  have  been  struck  by  a  female  sovereign  whose  title 
was  "Sri  Sada-Siva."  See  Marsden's  Numismata  Orientalia,  vol.  ii. 
p.  738. 

2  The  Rajah  of  Bijayanagar,  then  the  metropolis  of  the  famous  Brah- 
minical  kingdom  of  the  Carnatic,  between  which  and  the  'Adil  Shahi 
realm  of  the  Deccan  there  was  constant  war  at  this  period.  See  Scott's 
Ft  riskta,  vol.  i.  pp.  207-225  et  sea. 





In  the  said  city  of  Decan  there  reigns  a  king  who  is  a 
Mohammedan.  The  above-mentioned  captain  is  in  his  pay, 
together  with  the  said  Mamelukes.  This  city  is  extremely 
beautiful,  and  very  fertile.  The  king  of  it,  between  the 
Mamelukes  and  others  of  his  kingdom,  has  twenty-five  thou- 
sand men  horse  and  foot.  There  is  a  beautiful  palace  in  this 
city,  in  which  there  are  forty-four  chambers  before  you 
arrive  at  that  of  the  king.  This  city  is  walled  after  the 
manner  of  the  Christians,  and  the  houses  are  very  beautiful.1 

1  This  was  unquestionably  Bijapur,  now  a  ruined  town  in  the  Sattara 
district,  near  the  eastern  frontier,  towards  Hydrabad,  but  formerly  the 
metropolis  of  the  Muhammedan  kingdom  of  the  Deccan.  Fitch,  describ- 
ing Goa  in  1583,  says  :  "It  standeth  in  the  country  of  Hidalcan  [Ed- 
Deccan],  which  lieth  in  the  country  six  or  seven  days'  journey.  Its  chief 
city  is  called  Bisapor"  [Bijapur].  The  reigning  prince  in  Varthema's 
time  was  Yusuf  Khan,  the  reputed  son  of  Murad  II.  of  Anatolia,  who  had 
been  purchased  as  a  slave  for  the  body-guard  of  the  King  of  Bidar 
(Ahmedabad),  but  who  subsequently  raised  himself  to  the  highest  offices 
of  the  state,  and  finally  assumed  independent  sovereignty  as  'Adil  Shah 
in  1501.  His  resources  must  have  been  great,  for  he  built  the  vast 
citadel  of  Bijapur,  which  he  made  his  capital.  Our  traveller's  account 
of  the  magnificence  and  prosperity  of  the  city,  and  of  the  gorgeous 
retinue  of  the  king,  as  well  as  his  military  prowess,  is  attested  by  the 
noble  remains  which  mark  the  site  of  the  once  famous  Bijapur,  and  by 
the  full  account  given  by  Ferishta  of  the  reign  of  'Adil  Shah.  A  traveller 
who  visited  the  place  in  1852,  thus  describes  the  ruins  of  the  Padishah's 
palace  :  "  It  was  magnificence,  indeed ;  far  surpassing,  I  could  almost 
say,  that  of  any  ancient  or  modern  European  palace  I  ever  beheld, — I 
mean  as  regards  space  and  style  of  architecture.  The  bastioned  walls 
which  enclose  the  palace  and  its  precincts  are  about  a  mile  and  a  half 
in  circumference,  enclosing  a  space  of  about  sixty-two  acres.  The  broad 
moat  without  is  shaded  by  large  tamarind  trees,  and  the  courts  within 

the  citadel  are  also  full  of  trees As  for  Raglan  Castle,  it  could  be 

put  away  in  one  corner  of  the  Beejapore  palace,  and  Kenilworth  in 
another."  He  estimates  the  present  population  at  about  eleven  thousand 
souls.  See  Bombay  Quarterly  Magazine,  July  1853;  also  Sydenham's 
Account  of  Btjap4r. 

118  THE    TRAVELS    OF 

The  king  of  the  said  city  lives  in  great  pride  and  pomp.  A 
great  number  of  his  servants  wear  on  the  insteps  of  their 
shoes  rubies  and  diamonds,  and  other  jewels  ;  so  you  may 
imagine  how  many  are  worn  on  the  fingers  of  the  hand  and  in 
the  ears.  There  is  a  mountain  in  his  kingdom  where  they  dig 
out  diamonds,  which  mountain  is  a  league  distant  from  the 
city,  and  is  surrounded  by  a  wall,  and  is  kept  by  a  great 
guard.1  This  realm  is  most  abundant  in  everything,  like  the 
above-mentione'd  cities.  They  are  all  Mohammedans.  Their 
dress  consists  of  robes,  or  very  beautiful  shirts  of  silk,  and 
they  wear  on  their  feet  shoes  or  boots,  with  breeches  after 
the  fashion  of  sailors.  The  ladies  go  with  their  faces  quite 
covered,  according  to  the  custom  of  Damascus. 


The  above-mentioned  king  of  Decan  is  always  at  war 
with  the  king  of  Narsinga,  and  all  his  country  is  Moham- 
medan. The  greater  part  of  his  soldiers  are  foreigners  and 
white  men.2  The  natives  of  the  kingdom  are  of  a  tawny 
colour.  This  king  is  extremely  powerful,  and  very  rich, 
and  most  liberal.  He  also  possesses  many  naval  vessels, 
and  is  a  very  great  enemy  of  the  Christians.3  Departing 
thence,  we  went  to  another  city,  called  Bathacala. 

1  Probably  the  locality  mentioned  by  Tavernier,  who  says  :  "  The  first 
of  the  mines  I  visited  is  situated  in  the  territories  of  the  King  of  Visa- 
pour  (BijapUr),  in  the  province  of  Carnatica.  The  place  is  called  Raol- 
conda.  It  is  five  days'  journey  from  Golconda,  and  eight  or  nine  from 
Visapour."     Pinkerton's  Voyages,  vol.  viii.  p.  235. 

2  According  to  Ferishta,  'Adil  Shah  entertained  a  large  number  of 
foreign  auxiliaries  in  his  service,  among  whom  were  many  Abyssinians. 
He  also  mentions  that  his  successor,  Isma'il  'Adil  Shah,  "  formed  an 
army  of  10,000  cavalry,  consisting  of  Arabians,  Persians,  Turks,  Usbecks, 
Koords,  and  other  foreigners."     Scott's  Translation,  vol.  i.  p.  245. 

3  'Adil  Shah  expelled  the  Portuguese  from  Goa  on  their  first  capture 





Bathacala,1  a  very  noble  city  of  India,  is  distant  from 
Decan  five  days'  journey.  The  king  thereof  is  a  pagan. 
This  city  is  walled,  and  very  beautiful,  and  about  a  mile 
distant  from  the  sea.  The  king  is  subject  to  the  king  of 
Narsinga.  This  city  has  no  seaport,  the  only  approach  to  it 
being  by  a  small  river.     There  are  many  Moorish  merchants 

of  that  place  in  1510.  He  appears  to  have  been  an  enthusiast  in  matters 
of  faith  chiefly  on  political  grounds.  After  solemnly  establishing  the 
Shiah  creed  as  the  national  religion,  he  subsecpuently  retracted  his 
opinions  and  restored  the  Sunni  rites,  in  order  to  allay  the  serious  oppo- 
sition which  his  apostasy  had  excited  among  the  zealous  adherents  of 
'Omar,  Abubekr,  and  'Othman. 

1  I  find  no  difficulty  in  identifying  this  place  with  the  more  modern 
Sedasevaghur,  which  Thornton  describes  as  "  a  town  in  the  British  dis- 
trict of  North  Canara,  on  the  north  side  of  the  Kala  Nuddi,  and  a  mile 
east  of  its  mouth."  It  is  just  within  the  Karwar  Head,  where,  in 
Hamilton's  time,  there  was  a  British  factory,  and  an  adjacent  cove  was 
used  by  our  vessels  as  a  harbour  of  refuge  and  to  careen.  Karwar,  he 
says,  "  has  the  advantage  of  a  good  harbour  on  the  south  side  of  a  bay, 
and  a  river  capable  of  receiving  ships  of  three  hundred  tuns.  The  Rajah 
is  tributary  to  the  Mogul  at  present,  but  formerly  it  was  a  part  of 
Visapore's  dominions  before  Aurungzeb  conquered  that  country."  He 
styles  the  town  Batcoal  and  adds  :  "  the  Portuguese  have  an  island 
called  Anjediva,  about  two  miles  from  Batcoal."  (Pinkerton's  Voyages, 
vol.  viii.  pp.  361-2.)  These  indications  are  sufficiently  explicit  to  pre- 
vent our  confounding  Varthema's  "  Bathacala"  with  Batcull,  (Bucha- 
nan's "Batuculla"  and  Hamilton's  "  Batacola,")  where  the  British  had 
also  a  factory.  The  latter  is  in  lat.  13°  59',  or  fifteen  miles  south  of 
llonahwar,  while  Varthema,  who  is  travelling  southward,  reaches  Batha- 
cala three  days  before  arriving  at  Honahwar. 

As  an  attempt  is  being  made  to  restore  and  improve  the  old  harbour, 
it  is  to  be  hoped  that  the  more  ancient,  simple,  and  euphonious  title  of 
Bathcal  or  Bathcole  will  be  given  to  the  new  settlement.  That  of 
"  Sedashevagur,"  or  "  Sudaseoghur,"  as  it  is  more  generally  written, 
appears  to  have  originated  with  Sedashwa  Rao,  one  of  the  Rajahs  of 
Soonda,  who  built  a  fort  at  Bathcal,  and  grew  into  importance  on  the 
overthrow  of  the  great  kingdom  of  Bijayanagar  in  1565. 

120  THE    TRAVELS    OF 

here,  for  it  is  a  district  of  great  traffic.  The  above-named 
stream  passes  close  to  the  walls  of  the  city,  in  which  there  is 
a  great  quantity  of  rice,  and  a  great  abundance  of  sugar, 
and  especially  of  sugar  candied,  according  to  our  manner. 
We  begin  here  to  find  nuts  and  figs,  after  the  manner  of 
Calicut.  These  people  are  idolaters,  also  after  the  man- 
ner of  Calicut,  excepting  the  Moors,  who  live  according 
to  the  Mohammedan  religion.  Neither  horses,  nor  mules, 
nor  asses,  are  customary  here,  but  there  are  cows,  buffaloes, 
sheep,  oxen,  and  goats.  In  this  country  no  grain,  barley,  or 
vegetables  are  produced,  but  other  most  excellent  fruits,  usual 
in  India.  I  quitted  this  place,  and  went  to  another  island, 
which  is  called  Anzediva,1  and  which  is  inhabited  by  a  certain 
sort  of  people  who  are  Moors  and  pagans.  This  island  is 
distant  from  the  mainland  half  a  mile,  and  is  about  twenty 
miles  in  circumference.  The  air  is  not  very  good  here, 
neither  is  the  place  very  fertile.  There  is  an  excellent  port 
between  the  island  and  the  mainland,  and  very  good  water 
is  found  in  the  said  island. 


Travelling  for  one  day  from  the  aforesaid  island,  I  arrived 
at  a  place  called  Centacola,2  the  lord  of  which  is  not  very 

1  An  island  two  miles  distant  from  the  coast  of  North  Canara.  "  It  is 
about  a  mile  in  length,  and  possessed  by  the  Portuguese.  It  appears  on 
the  outside  rocky,  but  of  a  pleasant  aspect  on  the  opposite  side  next  the 
main,  where  it  is  fortified  by  a  wall  and  some  towers."  (Horsburgh's 
Directory,  vol.  i.  p.  507.)  The  island  was  captured  by  the  Portuguese  in 
1505.     Varthema  greatly  exaggerates  its  dimensions. 

2  Centacola  I  take  to  be  Uncola,  (the  "  Ankla"  of  Hamilton  and 
"  Ancola"  of  Buchanan,)  "  the  principal  place  in  the  subdivision  of  the 
same  name,  in  the  British  district  of  North  Canara,  a  town  two  miles 
from  the  Arabian  Sea  or  North  Indian  Ocean."  (Thornton's  Gazetteer.) 
Varthema  was  one  day  reaching  Centacola  from  Angediva,  and  Uncola 


rich.  A  great  quantity  of  cow  beef  is  met  with  here,  and 
much  rice,  and  good  fruits  customary  in  India.  In  this  city 
there  are  many  Moorish  merchants.  The  lord  of  it  is  a 
pagan.  The  people  are  of  a  tawny  colour:  they  go  naked 
and  bare-footed,  and  wear  nothing  on  the  head.  This  lord 
is  subject  to  the  king  of  Bethacala.  Travelling  thence  for 
two  days,  we  went  to  another  place  called  Onor,1  the  king  of 

being  in  lat.  14°  40',  is  five  geographical  miles  south  of  that  island. 
Buchanan  makes  the  distance  eight  cosses  from  Ancola  to  Sedasiva- 
ghur,  and  describes  the  former  town  as  having  a  ruined  fort  and  a 
bazaar,  but  few  inhabitants,  "  as  in  this  part  of  the  country  the  popu- 
lation does  not  settle  in  numbers  in  any  spot,  but  is  dispersed  in  hamlets 
and  farms.  Midway  between  Gaukarna  and  Ancola,  which  are  three 
cosses  apart,  is  the  Gangawali,  an  inlet  of  salt  water... Its  mouth  toward 
the  sea  is  narrow,  but  inwards  it  forms  a  lake,  which  is  from  one  mile  to 
half  that  extent  in  width. ..Boats  of  a  considerable  size  (patemars)  can 
come  over  the  bar,  and  ascend  the  river  for  three  cosses. ..The  river  has 
no  trade,  and  the  country  on  its  banks,  though  very  beautiful,  seems 
rather  barren."     Pinkerton,  vol.  viii.  362,  756-7. 

1  Iionahwar,  (the"Hinaur"  of  Ibn  Batuta,  "Honawera"  of  Buchanan, 
"  Ilonaver"  of  Wilks,  and  the  "  Onore"  of  the  generality  of  British 
writers,)  is  a  seaport  town  in  the  British  district  of  North  Canara.  "  It 
is  situated  on  the  north  side  of  an  extensive  estuary,  or  rather  inlet,  of 
the  sea,  which  at  its  south-eastern  extremity  receives  the  Sheravutty,  a 
considerable  river  flowing  from  the  western  ghats. ..The  lake  abounds  in 
fish,  great  cpuantities  of  which  are  taken  and  made  an  article  of  com- 
merce. This  port  was  formerly  a  place  of  great  commerce,  and  still  has 
a  trade  in  pepper,  cocoa-nuts,  betel-nut,  fish;  and  some  other  articles, 
especially  the  fragrant  sandal-wood,  which  grows  in  great  abundance  on 
the  rocky  hills  of  the  country."     Thornton's  Gazetteer. 

Ibn  Batuta,  who  visited  Honahwar  towards  the  middle  of  the  four- 
teenth century,  describes  its  local  features  in  similar  terms.  "  The  women 
of  this  city,"  he  adds,  "  and  of  all  the  Indian  districts  on  the  sea-shores, 
never  dress  in  clothes  that  have  been  stitched,  but  the  contrary.  One 
of  them,  for  example,  will  tie  one  part  of  a  piece  of  cloth  round  her 
waist,  while  the  remaining  part  will  be  placed  upon  her  head  and  breast. 
...The  present  king  is  Jamal  ed-Din  Muhammed  ibn  Hasan.  He  is  one 
of  the  best  of  princes,  but  is  himself  subject  to  an  infidel  king  whose 
name  is  Horaib."  (Lee's  Translation,  pp.  165-6.)  The  Portuguese 
built  a  strong  fort  here  in  the  sixteenth  century,  from  which  they  were 
subsequently  expelled  by  the  Rajah  of  Canara.  Hamilton  describes  a 
pagan  temple  at  Honahwar,  which  was  visited  yearly  by  a  great  number 

122  THE    TRAVELS    OF 

which  is  a  pagan,  and  is  subject  to  the  king  of  Navsinga. 
This  king  is  a  good  fellow,  and  has  seven  or  eight  ships, 
which  are  always  cruising  about.  He  is  a  great  friend  of 
the  king  of  Portugal.  As  to  his  dress,  he  goes  quite  naked, 
with  the  exception  of  a  cloth  about  his  middle.  There  is  a 
great  deal  of  rice  here,  as  is  usual  in  India,  and  some  kinds 
of  animals  are  found  here,  viz.,  wild  hogs,  stags,  wolves, 
lions,  and  a  great  number  of  birds,  different  from  ours ;  there 
are  also  many  peacocks  and  parrots  there.  They  have  beef 
of  cows,  that  is,  red  cows,  and  sheep  in  great  abundance. 
Roses,  flowers,  and  fruits,  are  found  here  all  through  the 
year.  The  air  of  this  place  is  most  perfect,  and  the  people 
here  are  longer  lived  than  we  are.  Near  the  said  district  of 
Onor  there  is  another  place,  called  Mangolor,1  in  which  fifty 
or  sixty  ships  are  laden  with  rice.  The  inhabitants  are 
pagans  and  Moors.  Their  mode  of  living,  their  customs, 
and  their  dress,  are  like  those  above  described.  We  de- 
parted thence,  and  went  to  another  city,  which  is  called 

of  pilgrims.  In  Ibn  Batuta's  time  the  greater  part  of  the  inhabitants 
were  Muhammedans,  and  had  committed  the  Koran  to  memory  ! 

1  A  town  in  the  British  district  of  South  Canara,  situate  on  the  north 
side  of  the  estuary  formed  by  the  junction  of  a  river  flowing  from  the 
north-east,  and  of  the  Naitravutty,  a  considerable  river,  but  navigable 
only  by  small  vessels... The  town  is  large,,  and  is  washed  on  east  and 
west  by  the  two  streams  whose  confluence  forms  the  estuary.  The  houses 
are  generally  mean,  and  there  are  no  public  buildings  worth  notice. 
Mangalore,  though  a  bad  haven,  was  the  principal  seaport  of  the  territory 
of  Hyder  Ali.  (See  Thornton's  Gazetteer.)  It  appears  to  have  been  so 
long  before  his  time,  for  Ibn  Batuta,  who  calls  it  Manjerun,  says  :  "  in 
this  place  are  some  of  the  greatest  merchants  of  Persia  and  Yemen... 
The  king  of  this  place  is  the  greatest  of  the  kings  of  Malabar,  and  in  it 
are  about  four  thousand  Muhammedan  merchants."  (Lee's  Transla- 
tion, p.  169.)  Hamilton  also  describes  it  as  "  the  greatest  mart  for  trade 
iu  all  the  Canary  dominions." 



Canonor1  is  a  fine  and  large  city,  in  which  the  king  of 
Portugal  has  a  very  strong  castle.  The  king  of  this  city  is 
a  great  friend  of  the   king   of  Portugal,-  although  he  is  a 

1  A  seaport  town  in  the  British  district  of  Malabar,  situate  on  the 
north  shore  of  a  small  bay,  open  to  the  south,  but  sheltered  towards  the 
Arabian  Sea  by  a  bluff  headland,  surrounded  by  a  fort... It  is  a  populous 
place,  but  very  irregularly  built ;  yet  has  many  good  houses,  chiefly 
belonging  to  the  Moplai  or  Mussulman  family,  proprietors  of  the  town. 
...It  is  a  port  of  considerable  trade,  principally  in  pepper,  grain,  timber 
and  cocoa-nuts."  (Thornton's  Gazetteer.)  Hamilton  mentions  the  fort 
built  by  the  Portuguese  in  1507,  who,  however,  did  not  seize  the  town  till 
some  time  after.  They  were  expelled  by  the  Dutch  about  the  year  1660, 
and  they  in  turn  sold  it  to  the  Moplai  family.  It  subsequently  fell  into 
the  hands  of  Tippoo  Sultan,  from  whom  it  was  finally  captured  by  the 
British  under  Abercrombie  in  1791. 

The  mention  of  the  Moplahs  in  the  foregoing  paragraph  induces  me 
to  suggest  a  different  derivation  of  the  word  to  that  generally  received. 
Duncan  supposes  it  to  be  contracted  from  Mahapilla,  or  "  child  of 
Mocha,"  in  Arabia,  from  which  country  they  originally  came,  as,  in  the 
language  of  Malabar,  Maha  means  Mocha,  and  pitta,  child.  (Thorn- 
ton's Gazetteer,  sub  voce  Malabar.)  I  am  inclined  to  think  that  the 
name  is  either  a  corruption  of  the  Arabic  Muflih,  (from  the  root  fdlaha, 
to  till  the  soil,)  meaning  prosperous  or  victorious, — in  which  sense  it 
would  apply  to  the  successful  establishments  of  these  foreign  Mussul- 
mans on  the  western  coast  of  India  ;  or,  that  it  is  a  similar  corruption  of 
Mdfiih,  (the  active  participial  form  of  the  same  verb,)  an  agriculturist, 
— a  still  more  appropriate  designation  of  the  Moplahs,  who,  according 
to  Buchanan,  are  both  traders  and  farmers.  In  the  latter  sense,  the 
term,  though  not  usually  so  applied  among  the  Arabs,  would  be  iden- 
tical with  Fellah,  which  is  also  a  derivative  from  the  triliteral  root  fdlaha. 

a  The  sequel  will  show  that  Varthema  is  here  anticipating,  in  part, 
what  did  not  actually  take  place  till  two  or  three  years  after  his  first  visit, 
which  must  have  occurred  between  1504-5.  The  Portuguese  under 
Pedro  Alvarez  Cabral  made  their  first  appearance  at  Cannanore  on  the 
15th  of  January  1501.  The  second  expedition,  which  was  commanded 
by  Juan  de  Nueva,  followed  in  November  of  the  same  year,  and  on  both 
occasions  the  foreigners  were  received  and  treated  with  the  greatest  con- 
sideration by  the  inhabitants,  the  Rajah  himself  offering  to  become  their 
security  for  a  large  amount  of  produce  rather  than  that  their  ships 

124  THE    TRAVELS    OF 

pagan.  This  Canonor  is  the  port  at  which  the  horses  which 
come  from  Persia  disembark.  And  you  must  know  that 
every  horse  pays  twenty-five  ducats  for  customs  duty,  and 
then  they  proceed  on  the  mainland  towards  Narsinga.  There 
arc  many  Moorish  merchants  in  this  city.  No  grain  nor 
grapes  grow  here,  nor  any  productions  like  ours,  excepting 
cucumbers  and  melons.  Bread  is  not  eaten  here,  that,  is  to 
say,  by  the  natives  of  the  country,  but  they  eat  rice,  fish, 
flesh,  and  the  nuts  of  the  country.  At  the  proper  time  we 
will  speak  of  their  religion  and  customs,  for  they  live  after 
the  manner  of  those  of  Calicut.  Here  we  begin  to  find  a 
few  spices,  such  as  pepper,  ginger,  cardamums,  mirabolans, 
and  a  little  cassia.  This  place  is  not  surrounded  by  a  wall. 
The  houses  are  very  poor.  Here  also  are  found  fruits  dif- 
ferent from  ours,  and  which  are  also  far  superior  to  ours.  I 
will  make  the  comparison  when  the  proper  time  comes. 
The  country  is  well  adapted  for  war,  as  it  is  full  of  hollow 
places  artificially  made.  The  king  of  this  place  has  50,000 
Naeri,1  that  is,  gentlemen  who  fight  with  swords,  shields, 
lances  and  bows,  and  with  artillery.  And  yet  they  go 
naked  and  unshod,  with  a  cloth  around  them,  without  any- 
thing on  their  heads,  excepting  when  they  go  to  war,  when 
they  wear  a  turban  of  a  red  colour  passed  twice  round  the 
head,  and  they  all  have  them  tied  in  the  same  manner. 
They  do  not  use  here  either  horses,  mules,  camels,  or  asses. 
Elephants  are  sometimes  used,  but  not  for  battle.  At  the 
proper  time  we  will  speak  of  the  vigour  exerted  by  the  king 

should  return  to  Europe  empty.  In  1502  Vasco  de  Gama  established  a 
factory  there,  and  the  year  following  the  Rajah  gave  him  a  house  for  the 
purpose,  and  entered  into  an  offensive  and  defensive  alliance  with  the 
Portuguese  ;  but  the  fort  does  not  appear  to  have  existed  till  1507,  when 
Don  Francisco  de  Almeyda,  the  first  Viceroy,  obtained  permission  to 
build  it  in  the  harbour,  where  he  left  Lorenzo  de  Britto  with  150  men, 
and  two  vessels  to  cruise  on  the  coast.  See  Greene's  Collection  of  Voy- 
ages, vol.  i.  pp.  48-61 1. 

1  Buchanan  says  :  "  the  Nairs  are  the  pure  Sudras  of  Malayala,  and 
all  pretend  to  be  born  soldiers... They  form  the  militia  of  Malayala,  and 
their  chief  delight  is  in  arms."     Pinkerton's  Voyages,  viii.  735-6. 


of  Canonor  against  the  Portuguese.  There  is  much  traffic 
in  this  place,  to  which  two  hundred  ships  come  every  year 
from  different  countries.  Having  spent  some  days  here  we 
took  our  way  towards  the  kingdom  of  Narsinga,  and  tra- 
velled on  the  mainland  for  fifteen1  days  towards  the  east,  and 
came  to  a  city  called  Bisinegar. 


The  said  city  of  Bisinegar2  belongs  to  the  king  of  Nar- 
singa, and  is  very  large  and  strongly  walled.     It  is  situated 

1  Abel  er-Razzak  was  eighteen  days  travelling  between  Bijayanagar 
and  Maganor  (Mangalore). 

-  Narsinga  or  Bijayanagar,  (I  believe  that  to  be  the  correct  ortho- 
graphy of  the  latter  name,  but  it  is  spelt  in  a  great  variety  of  ways  by 
modern  as  well  as  by  earlier  writers,)  now  a  ruined  city,  was  formerly 
the  capital  of  the  ancient  Brahminical  kingdom  of  the  Carnatic,  which 
before  the  conquests  of  the  Muhammedans  extended  over  the  greater 
part  of  the  peninsula  between  the  Malabar  and  Coromandel  coasts.  It 
is  situated  on  the  western  bank  of  the  river  Toongabudra,  in  lat.  15°  19', 
long.  76°  32'.  It  was  visited  by  Abd  er-Razzak  and  by  Nicolo  de'  Conti 
a.d.  1442-1445,  and  described  about  twenty-five  years  later  by  Nikitin, 
and  their  several  narratives,  contained  in  the  volume  entitled  India  in 
the  Fifteenth  Century  of  the  Hakluyt  Society's  Publications,  concur  in 
corroborating  Varthema's  brief  sketch  of  the  vastness  and  magnificence 
of  this  once  famdus  metropolis,  and  the  splendour  of  its  court.  The 
number  of  elephants,  their  strength  and  sagacity,  and  the  large  army  of 
the  Rajah,  which  Conti  estimated  at  90,000  men  in  the  city  alone,  at- 
tracted the  special  attention  of  these  early  travellers.  At  the  period  of 
Varthema's  visit,  the  administration  of  affairs  was  in  the  hands  of 
Heemraj,  one  of  the  principal  ministers  of  state,  who  on  the  death  of 
See  Rajah  became  regent  on  behalf  of  his  son,  a  minor,  who  died  shortly 
after,  and  Heemraj  so  disposed  of  his  successors  that  he  retained  almost 
absolute  sway  for  forty  years,  and  was  succeeded  in  office  by  his  son 
Ramraj,  during  whose  reign  the  power  of  the  Bijayanagar  state  was 
broken  by  a  confederacy  of  the  M  ussulman  kings  of  the  Deccan  at  the 
battle  of  Talikote  in  1565.  "Since  that  time,"  writes  Ferishta,  "  the 
raj  of  Beejnugger  has  never  recovered  its  ancient  splendour  ;  and  the 

126  THE    TRAVELS    OF 

on  the  side  of  a  mountain,  and  is  seven  miles  in  circum- 
ference. It  has  a  triple  circle  of  walls.  It  is  a  place  of 
great  merchandise,  is  extremely  fertile,  and  is  endowed  with 
all  possible  kinds  of  delicacies.  It  occupies  the  most  beau- 
tiful site,  and  possesses  the  best  air  that  were  ever  seen  : 
with  certain  very  beautiful  places  for  hunting  and  the  same 
for  fowling,  so  that  it  appears  to  me  to  be  a  second  paradise. 
The  king  of  this  city  is  a  pagan,  with  all  his  kingdom,  that 
is  to  say,  idolaters.  He  is  a  very  powerful  king,  and  keeps 
up  constantly  40,000  horsemen.  And  you  must  know  that 
a  horse  is  worth  at  least  300,  400,  and  500  pardai,  and  some 
are  purchased  for  800  pardai,  because  horses  are  not  pro- 
duced there,  neither  are  many  mares  found  there,  because 
those  kings  who  hold  the  seaports  do  not  allow  them  to  be 
brought  there.  The  said  king  also  possesses  400  elephants 
and  some  dromedaries,  which  dromedaries  run  with  great 
swiftness.  It  occurs  to  me  here  to  touch  upon  a  subject 
worthy  of  notice,  viz.,  the  discretion,  the  intelligence,  and 
the  strength  of  the  elephant.  We  will  first  say  in  what 
manner  he  fights.  When  an  elephant  goes  into  battle  he 
carries  a  saddle,  in  the  same  manner  as  they  are  borne  by 
the  mules  of  the  kingdom  of  Naples,  fastened  underneath 
by  two  iron  chains.  On  each  side  of  the  said  saddle  he 
carries  a  large  and  very  strong  wooden  box,  and  in  each  box 
there  go  three  men.  On  the  neck  of  the  elephant,  between 
the  boxes,  they  place  a  plank  the  size  of  half  a  span,  and 
between  the  boxes  and  the  plank  a  man  sits  astride  who 

city  itself  has  been  so  destroyed,  that  it  is  now  totally  in  ruins  and  unin- 
habited ;  while  the  country  has  been  seized  by  the  zemindars,  each  of 
whom  hath  assumed  an  independent  power  in  his  own  district."  After 
this  disaster,  the  court  was  removed  to  Pennaconda,  about  ninety  miles 
to  the  southward  of  Bellary,  where  the  ruins  of  this  once  powerful 
dynasty  continued  to  cast  a  lingering  look  at  its  former  greatness  till 
the  country  was  subjected  by  Aurungzib  in  1685.  Bijayanagar,  how- 
ever, was  still  a  large  city  when  visited  by  Caesar  Fredericke  in  1567. 
See  Scott's  Ferishta,  vol.  i.  pp.  262,  295-298.  Wilks's  Historical 
Sketches  of  the  South  of  India,  Calcutta,  pp.  4-15. 


speaks  to  the  elephant,  for  the  said  elephant  possesses  more 
intelligence  than  any  other  animal  in  the  world ;  so  that 
there  are  in  all  seven  persons  who  go  upon  the  said  ele- 
phant ;  and  they  go  armed  with  shirts  of  mail,  and  with 
bows  and  lances,  swords  and  shields.  And  in  like  manner 
they  arm  the  elephant  with  mail,  especially  the  head  and 
the  trunk.  They  fasten  to  the  trunk  a  sword  two 
br accia  long,  as  thick  and  as  wide  as  the  hand  of  a  man. 
And  in  that  way  they  fight.1  And  he  who  sits  upon  his  neck 
orders  him  :  "  Go  forward,"  or  "  Turn  back,"  "  Strike  this 
one,"  "  Strike  that  one,"  "  Do  not  strike  any  more,"  and  he 
understands  as  though  he  were  a  human  being.  But  if  at 
any  time  they  are  put  to  flight  it  is  impossible  to  restrain 
them  ;  for  this  race  of  people  are  great  masters  of  the  art  of 
making  fireworks,  and  these  animals  have  a  great  dread  of 
fire,  and  through  this  means  they  sometimes  take  to  flight. 
But  in  every  way  this  animal  is  the  most  discreet  in  the 
world  and  the  most  powerful.  I  have  seen  three  elephants 
bring  a  ship  from  the  sea  to  the  land,  in  the  manner  as  I  will 
tell  you,  When  I  was  in  Canonor,  some  Moorish  merchants 
brought  a  ship  on  shore  in  this  manner,  after  the  custom  of 
Christians.  They  beach  ships  the  prow  foremost,  but  here 
they  put  the  side  of  the  vessel  foremost,  and  under  the  said 
ship  they  put  three  pieces  of  wood,  and  on  the  side  next  the 
sea  I  saw  three  elephants  kneel  down  and  with  their  heads 
push  the  ship  on  to  dry  land.2  Many  say  that  the  elephant 
has  no  joints,  and  I  say  that  it  is  true  that  they  have  not  the 
joints  so  high  as  other  animals,  but  they  have  them  low.     I 

1  Nikitin's  description  is  very  similar.  He  says  :  "  Elephants  are 
greatly  used  in  battle.  Large  scythes  are  attached  to  their  trunks  and 
tusks,  and  the  animals  are  clad  in  ornamental  plates  of  steel.  They 
carry  a  citadel,  and  in  the  citadel  twelve  men  in  armour  with  guns  and 
arrows."     India  in  the  Fifteenth  Century,  iii.  p.  12. 

2  Turpin  mentions  that  the  Siamese  make  use  of  the  elephant  "  to 
shove  vessels  into  the  water,  which  he  does  with  his  back."  Pinker- 
ton's  Voyages,  vol.  i.  p.  615. 

128  THE    TRAVELS    OF 

tell  you,  moreover,  that  the  female  elephant  is  stronger  and 
more  proud  than  the  male,  and  some  of  the  females  are  mad. 
The  said  elephants  arc  as  large  as  three  buffaloes,  and  they 
have  a  skin  like  that  of  the  buffalo,  and  eyes  like  those  of  a 
pig,  and  a  trunk  reaching  to  the  ground,  and  with  this  they 
put  their  food  into  their  mouth  as  also  their  drink ;  for  their 
mouth  is  situated  beneath  their  throat,  and  almost  like  a  pig 
or  a  sturgeon.  This  trunk  is  hollow  within,  and  I  have 
many  times  seen  them  fish  up  a  quattrino  from  the  ground 
with  it.  And  with  this  trunk  I  have  seen  them  pull  down 
a  branch  from  a  tree  which  twenty-four  of  our  men  could 
not  pull  to  the  ground  with  a  rope,  and  the  elephant  tore  it 
down  with  three  pulls.  The  two  teeth  which  are  seen  are 
in  the  upper  jaw.  The  ears  are  two  palmi  every  way,  some 
more,  some  less.  Their  legs  are  almost  as  large  at  the  lower 
extremity  as  at  the  upper.  Their  feet  are  round  like  a  very 
large  trencher  for  cutting  meat  on,  and  around  the  foot  there 
are  five  nails  as  large  as  the  shell  of  an  oyster.  The  tail  is 
as  long  as  that  of  a  buffalo,  about  three  palmi  long,  and  has 
a  few  scattered  hairs.  The  female  is  smaller  than  the  male. 
With  respect  to  the  height  of  the  said  elephant,  I  have  seen 
a  great  many  thirteen  and  fourteen  palmi  high,  and  I  have 
ridden  on  some  of  that  height ;  they  say,  moreover,  that 
some  are  found  fifteen  palmi  high.  Their  walk  is  very  slow, 
and  those  who  are  not  accustomed  to  it  cannot  ride  them, 
because  it  upsets  their  stomach,  just  as  it  does  in  travelling 
by  sea.  The  small  elephants  have  a  pace  like  that  of  a  mule, 
and  it  is  a  pleasure  to  ride  them.  When  the  said  elephants 
are  to  be  ridden,  the  said  elephant  lowers  one  of  the  hind 
legs,  and  by  that  leg  it  is  mounted  ;  nevertheless,  you  must 
help  yourself  or  be  helped  to  mount.  You  must  also  know 
that  the  said  elephants  do  not  carry  a  bridle  or  halter,  or 
anything  bound  on  the  head. 



The  said  elephant,  when  he  wishes  to  generate,  goes  into 
a  secret  place,  that  is,  into  the  water  in  certain  marshes,1  and 
they  unite  and  generate  like  human  beings.  In  some  coun- 
tries, I  have  seen  that  the  finest  present  which  can  be  made 
to  a  king  is  the  parts  of  an  elephant,  which  said  king  eats 
the  said  parts  ;  for  in  some  countries  an  elephant  is  worth 
fifty  ducats,  in  some  other  countries  it  is  worth  one  thousand 
and  two  thousand  ducats.  So  that,  in  conclusion,  I  say 
that  I  have  seen  some  elephants  which  have  more  under- 
standing, and  more  discretion  and  intelligence,  than  any 
kind  of  people  I  have  met  with.  This  king  of  Narsinga  is 
the  richest  king  I  have  ever  heard  spoken  of.  This  city  is 
situated  like  Milan,  but  not  in  a  plain.  The  residence  of 
the  king  is  here,  and  his  realms  are  placed  as  it  might  be 
the  realm  of  Naples  and  also  Venice  ;  so  that  he  has  the  sea 
on  both  sides.  His  Brahmins,  that  is,  his  priests,  say  that 
he  possesses  a  revenue  of  12,000  pardai  per  day.  He  is 
constantly  at  war  with  several  Moorish  and  pagan  kings. 
His  faith  is  idolatrous,  and  they  worship  the  devil,  as  do 
those  of  Calicut.  When  the  proper  time  comes  we  will 
state  in  what  manner  they  worship  him.  They  live  like 
pagans.  Their  dress  is  this  :  the  men  of  condition  wear  a 
short  shirt,  and  on  their  head  a  cloth  of  gold  and  silk  in  the 
Moorish  fashion,  but  nothing  on  the  feet.  The  common 
people  go  quite  naked,  with  the  exception  of  a  piece  of 
cloth  about  their  middle.  The  king  wears  a  cap  of  gold 
brocade  two  spans  long,  and  when  he  goes  to  war  he  wears 
a  quilted  dress  of  cotton,  and  over  it  he  puts  another  gar- 
ment full  of  golden  piastres,  and  having  all  around  it  jewels 
of  various  kinds.  His  horse  is  worth  more  than  some  of  our 
cities,  on  account  of  the  ornaments  which  it  wears.  When 
he  rides  for  his  pleasure  he  is  always  accompanied  by  three 
1  This  peculiarity  is  also  noticed  by  Turpin.     Id.  p.  614. 




or  four  kings,  and  many  other  lords,  and  five  or  six  thou- 
sand horse.  Wherefore  he  may  be  considered  to  be  a  very 
powerful  lord.  His  money  consists  of  a  pardao,  as  I  have 
said.  He  also  coins  a  silver  money  called  tare,  and  others 
of  gold,  twenty  of  which  go  to  a  pardao,  and  are  called 
fanom.  And  of  these  small  ones  of  silver,  there  go  sixteen 
to  a  fanom.  They  also  have  another  coin  called  cas,  sixteen 
of  which  go  to  a  tare  of  silver.1    In  this  kingdom  you  can  go 

1  The  subjoined  is  a  comparison  of  the  Hindu  coins  current  at  l>i,ja- 
yanagar,  and  their  relative  value,  as  given  by  'Abd  er-Razzak  and  Var- 

'Abd  er-Razzak,  a. p.  1443. 
Gold  Coins  (with  alloy). 
Varaha  =:    2  Dinars,  Kopcki. 
\  a  Varaha. 
l-10th  of  a  Perfcab. 
Pure  Silver. 
-^th  of  a  Fanom. 
Djitel     =    ^rd  of  a  Tar. 

Per  tab  = 
Fanam  = 

Tar         == 

Varthema,  a.d.  1504-5. 
Gold  Coins. 


Fanom  =  l-20th  of  a  Pardao. 

Tare      =  l-15th  of  a  Fanom. 

Cas        =  1-1 6th  of  a  silver  Tare, 
(equal  to  a  Venetian  quattrino.) 

The  Varaha  and  the  Half  Varaha,  called  Pertab  or  Pardao,  was  the 
Hun  of  subsequent  Mussulman  writers  and  the  Pagoda  of  Europeans, 
the  latter  a  Portuguese  appellation  derived  from  the  pyramidal  temple 
generally  depicted  on  one  side  of  it.  In  'Abd  er-Razzak's  Varaha  and 
Pertab  we  have,  consequently,  the  Single  and  Double  Pagoda  of  after 
times.  Varthema  omits  all  mention  of  the  Varaha,  but  as  he  gives 
twenty  Fanams  to  the  Pardao,  while  'Abd  er-Razzak  allows  only  ten, 
his  Pardao  was  probably  identical  with  the  Varaha  or  Double  Pagoda. 
Hence,  it  appears  that  the  gold  coinage  of  the  Bijayanagar  state  had 
undergone  no  material  change  in  the  half  century  intervening  between 
the  visits  of  the  two  travellers. 

The  silver  coinage  must  have  fluctuated  considerably,  for  whereas 
'Abd  er-Razzak  gives  only  six  Tars  to  a  Fanam,  Varthema  allows  fif- 
teen. Probably,  the  Tar  of  the  latter  was  of  a  baser  metal ;  that  of  the 
former  is  described  particularly  as  being  "  cast  in  pure  silver." 

There  is  a  still  greater  difference  in  the  copper  money  of  the  two  tra- 
vellers, quite  sufficient,  indeed,  to  lead  to  the  inference  that  the  Djitel 
and  the  Cas  were  different  coins ;  but  as  I  am  quite  unlearned  in  Numis- 
matics, I  must  leave  these  discrepancies  to  be  solved  by  others.    Prinsep 


everywhere  in  safety.  But  it  is  necessary  to  be  on  your 
guard  against  some  lions  which  are  on  the  road.  I  will  not 
speak  of  their  food  at  the  present  time,  because  I  wish  to 
describe  it  when  we  shall  be  in  Calicut,  where  there  are  the 
same  customs  and  the  same  manner  of  living.  This  king  is 
a  very  great  friend  of  the  Christians,  especially  of  the  king 
of  Portugal,  because  he  does  not  know  much  of  any  other 
Christians.  When  the  Portuguese  arrive  in  his  territories 
they  do  them  great  honour.  When  we  had  seen  this  so 
noble  city  for  some  days  we  turned  towards  Canonor  And 
when  we  had  arrived  there,  at  the  end  of  three  days  we 
took  our  way  by  land  and  went  to  a  city  called  Torma- 





Tormapatani1  is  distant  from  Canonor  twelve  miles,  and 
the  lord  of  it  is  a  Pagan.     The  land  is  not  very  rich,  and  is 

affords  but  scanty  assistance  relative  to  the  old  Hindu  coinage  of  the 

It  deserves  to  be  noticed  that  neither  'Abd  er-Razzak  nor  Varthema 
mentions  the  Cowrie  as  forming  part  of  the  currency.  Ibn  Batiita  speci- 
fies it  under  the  Arabic  name  of  Wada\  remarks  that  it  was  collected  in 
the  Maldive  Islands  where  it  passed  for  money,  and  was  sent  in  large 
quantities  to  Bengal,  where  it  was  also  current  instead  of  coin.  Lee's 
Translation,  p.  178. 

Nicold  de'  Conti's  account  of  the  Indian  currency  in  his  time  is  very 
loose  and  unsatisfactory.  He  says:  "In  some  parts  of  anterior  India, 
Venetian  ducats  are  in  circulation.  Some  have  golden  coins,  weighing 
more  than  double  of  our  florin,  and  also  less,  and,  moreover,  silver  and 
brass  money.  In  some  places  pieces  of  gold  worked  to  a  certain  weight 
are  used  as  money."     India  in  the  Fifteenth  Century,  ii.  p.  30. 

1  This  is,  undoubtedly,  the  Dormapatam  of  Hamilton,  a  harbour  near 
the  Tellicherry  river,  a  little  to  the  northward  of  that  town,  which  latter 
I  presume  to  be  the  place  which  Varthema  indicates.     Barbosa  calls  it 


132  THE    TRAVELS    OF 

one  mile  from  the  sea,  and  it  has  a  river  not  very  large. 
There  are  many  vessels  of  Moorish  merchants  here.  The 
people  of  this  country  live  miserably,  and  the  greatest  riches 
here  consist  of  Indian  nuts,  and  these  they  eat  there  with  a 
little  rice.  They  have  plenty  of  timber  here  for  building 
ships.  In  this  land  there  are  about  fifteen  thousand  Moors, 
and  they  arc  subject  to  the  Sultan  or  pagan  lord.  I  do  not 
speak  of  their  manner  of  living  at  present,  because  it  will 
be  described  in  Calicut,  inasmuch  as  they  are  all  of  one  and 
the  same  faith.  The  houses  in  this  city  are  not  too  good, 
for  a  house  is  worth  half  a  ducat,  as  I  will  explain  to  you 
further  on.  Here  we  remained  two  days,  and  then  departed 
and  went  to  a  place  which  is  called  Pandarani,1  distant  from 

"  Terinapatani,"  and  describes  it  as  situated  on  a  river  with  two  outlets 
to  the  sea,  inhabited  chiefly  by  Map\deres  (Moplahs,)  who  are  great 
merchants,  and  as  the  limit  of  the  kingdom  of  Cannanore  in  the  direc- 
tion of  Calicut.  (Ramusio,  vol.  i.  p.  335.)  "  The  neighbouring  couutry 
is  highly  productive,  the  low  lands  producing  annually  two,  and  in  some 
places  three,  crops  of  rice  in  the  year.  The  cocoa-nut  tree  also  grows 
in  great  abundance  and  perfection.... The  population  is  estimated  at 
twenty  thousand,  the  majority  of  whom  are  Mussulman  Moplahs." 
(Thornton's  Gazetteer.)  I  am  inclined  to  identify  either  Ibn  Batiita's 
"  Jarafattan"  or  "  Badafattan,"  both  of  which  occur  between  his  "ITili" 
and  "  Kalikut,"  with  this  Dormepatam,  or,  as  Baldasus  writes  it,  "  Terma- 
patan."  Hili  I  take  to  be  the  Ulala  of  Buchanan,  "a  large  town  on  the 
south  side  of  the  lake  of  Mangalore,  and  formerly  the  residence  of  a 
petty  prince."     Pinkehton's  Voyages,  vol.  viii.  p.  747. 

1  This  name  and  that  of  Capogatto,  the  town  next  mentioned,  have  dis- 
appeared from  the  modern  maps  ;  but  if  not  identical  with  Waddakarre  and 
Tikodi,  they  must  be  sought  for  in  the  vicinity  of  those  places,  which  I 
find  spelt  in  a  variety  of  ways  by  old  travellers.  Hamilton  has  "  Bur- 
gara"  and  "  Cottica,"  and  off  Cottica  he  says  is  "  the  Sacrifice  Rock, 
about  eight  miles  in  the  sea,"  which  is,  doubtless,  Varthema's  "insula 
deshabitata."  D'Anville  has  "  Bergare"  and  "  Cotta":  Buchanan  writes 
the  former  "  Barrygurry"  or  "  Vadacurry,"  and  Arrowsmith  makes 
"  Kotacull"  of  the  latter  ;  but  the  diversity  is  as  endless  as  it  is  per- 
plexing. Both  places,  however,  are  distinctly  mentioned  by  Baldajus  in 
his  account  of  the  early  proceedings  of  the  Portuguese  on  the  Malabar 
coast : — "  Between  Cananor  and  Calecut  lies  the  town  of  Panane  seated 
upon   the  seashore. ...In   this  place   the   Sammoryn  kept  his  residence 


this  one  day's  journey,  and  which  is  subject  to  the  king  of 
Calicut.  This  place  is  a  wretched  affair,  and  has  no  port. 
Opposite  to  the  said  city,  in  the  sea  three  leagues  or  there- 
about, there  is  an  uninhabited  island.  The  manner  of  living 
of  this  Pandarini,  and  their  customs,  are  the  same  as  those 
of  Calicut.  This  city  is  not  level,  and  the  land  is  high.  We 
departed  hence  and  went  to  another  place  called  Capogatto, 
which  is  also  subject  to  the  king  of  Calicut.     This  place  has 

when  Vasco  de  Gama  came  into  those  parts... The  Sammoryn  sent  cer- 
tain pilots  to  conduct  the  Portuguese  fleet  into  the  harbour  of  Capogaie, 
where  there  was  much  better  and  safer  anchorage."  (Churchill's  Collec- 
tion of  Voyages,  vol.  iii.  p.  625.)  Another  version  of  that  visit,  which 
occurred  in  1498,  describes  De  Gama's  landing  at  Padarane  and  his 
progress  towards  Kapokats,  where  his  attendants  rested  to  refresh 
themselves.  (Greene's  Collection,  vol.  i.  pp.  30,  31.)  This  place,  Pan- 
darani  or  Panane,  must  not  be  confounded  with  Yarthema's  Pannani 
to  the  south  of  Calicut,  which  Thornton  writes  "  Ponany." 

Barbosa  also  mentions  a  Panderani  between  Cannanore  and  Calicut, 
and  describes  it  as  inhabited  by  Moors,  and  as  a  great  haven  for  ships  ; 
but  he  places  it  to  the  south  of  Capogatto,  whereas  Varthema's  Panda- 
rani  occurs  to  the  north  of  his  Capogatto.  I  am  of  opinion  that  the 
seeming  discrepancy  arises  from  a  similarity  in  the  names  of  two  different 
places.  Barbosa's  Capogatto  he  describes  as  situated  about  twelve  miles 
up  the  river  of  Tarmapaiam,  whereas  Varthema's  Capogatto  was  evi- 
dently a  seaport  town,  only  four  leagues  distant  from  Calicut.  Hence, 
I  find  no  difficulty  in  identifying  it  with  Barbosa's  Capucar,  which  he 
locates  six  miles  to  the  north  of  Calicut.  He  says  :  "  Beyond  this 
[Panderani]  there  is  another  place  with  a  river,  called  Capucar,  where 
there  are  many  Moors,  natives  of  the  country,  and  many  ships,  and 
they  carry  on  a  large  trade  with  the  merchandize  of  the  country,  which 
is  brought  hither  to  be  shipped. ..Six  miles  beyond  this  place  is  Calicut." 
{Ramusio,  vol.  i.  p.  311.)  There  are  several  lacunas  in  Barbosa's  narra- 
tive of  this  part  of  the  coast  as  given  by  Ramusio,  owing  apparently  to 
a  defect  in  the  original  MS.  The  following  is  his  list  of  places  as  they 
occur  consecutively  between  Cannanore  and  Calicut :  Cananor  ;  Crecate  ; 
...Tarmapatam  ;  Capogatto  ;...Padripatam,  the  frontier  of  the  kingdom 
of  Calicut;  Tircori ;  Panderani  ;  Capucar;  Calicut. 

Though  his  description  of  the  locality  is  widely  different,  I  am  never- 
theless disposed  to  identify  Yarthema's  Pandarani  with  Ibn  Batuta's 
"  Fandaraina,"  where  he  landed  before  reaching  Calicut  from  the  north- 
wrard.     See  Lee's  Translation,  p.  171. 


134  THE    TRAVELS    OF 

a  very  beautiful  palace,  built  in  the  ancient  style,  and  there 
is  a  small  river  towards  the  south,  and  it  is  four  leagues  dis- 
tant from  Calicut.  There  is  nothing  to  be  said  here,  because 
they  follow  the  manner  and  style  of  Calicut.  We  departed 
hence  and  went  to  the  very  noble  city  of  Calicut.  I  have 
not  written  about  the  manner  of  living,  the  customs  and 
faith,  the  administration  of  justice,  dress,  and  country  of 
Chiavul  and  of  Dabul,  of  Bathacala,  nor  of  the  king  of  Onor, 
nor  of  Mangalor,  nor  of  Canonor,  nor,  indeed,  of  the  king 
of  Cucin,  nor  of  the  king  of  Caicolone,  nor  of  that  of  Colon, 
neither  have  I  spoken  of  the  king  of  Narsinga.  Now  I  will 
speak  of  the  king  here  in  Calicut,  because  he  is  the  most 
important  king  of  all  those  before  mentioned,  and  is  called 
Samory,1  which  in  the  pagan  language  means  God  on  earth. 

1  The  English  "  Zamorin."  According  to  some,  this  is  a  corruption 
of  Tamuri,  the  name  of  the  most  exalted  family  of  the  Nair  caste. 
Buchanan  says  :  "  The  Tamuri  pretends  to  he  of  a  higher  rank  than 
the  Brahmans,  and  to  be  inferior  only  to  the  invisible  gods,  a  pretension 
that  was  acknowledged  by  his  subjects,  but  which  is  held  as  absurd  and 
abominable  by  the  Brahmans,  by  whom  he  is  only  treated  as  a  Sudra." 
(Pinkerton's  Voyages,  vol.  viii.  p.  735.)  Others  derive  the  title  from 
Zamooclin,  the  sea  ;  and  the  Zamorin  of  Calicut  is  so  called  from  his 
beina;  the  Lord  of  the  Sea. 

LUDOV1CO    1H    VARTHEMA.  135 


Having  nearly  arrived  at  the  head  of  India,  that  is  to  say, 
at  the  place  in  which  the  greatest  dignity  of  India  is  cen- 
tered, it  has  appeared  to  me  fitting  to  bring  the  First  book  to 
an  end  and  commence  the  Second ;  as,  moreover,  I  have  to 
lay  before  every  kind  reader  matters  of  greater  importance 
and  comfort  to  the  intellect,  and  of  courage,  so  far  as  our 
favourite  labour  of  travelling  through  the  world  may  assist 
us  and  our  intelligence  may  serve  us,  submitting,  however, 
everything  to  the  judgment  of  men  who  may,  perhaps,  have 
visited  more  countries  than  I  have. 


Calicut1  is  on  the  mainland,  the  sea  beats  against  the  walls 
of  the  houses.     There  is  no  port  here,  but  about  a  mile  from 

1  Calicut,  a  seaport  town  in  the  British  district  of  Malabar.  "  It  is 
situate  on  the  open  beach,  there  being  neither  river  nor  haven  ;  and 
ships  must  anchor  in  the  open  sea. ..The  haven,  said  to  have  been  once 
capacious,  has  been  filled  up  with  drifted  sand... Forbes,  who  visited  it 
in  1772,  speaks  of  it  as  offering  very  little  to  interest  a  traveller,  being 
chiefly  composed  of  low  huts  shaded  by  cocoa-nut  trees,  on  a  sandy 
shore."  (Thornton's  Gazetteer.)  Ibn  Batiita  describes  Calicut  as  "one 
of  the  greatest  ports  in  the  district  of  Malabar;"  Nicolo  de'  Conti  as  "a 
maritime  city,  eight  miles  in  circumference,  a  noble  emporium  for  all 

136  THE    TRAVELS    OF 

the  place  towards  the  south  there  is  a  river,  which  is  narrow 
at  its  embouchure  and  has  not  more  than  five  or  six  spans  of 
water.  This  stream  flows  through  Calicut  and  has  a  great 
number  of  branches.  This  city  has  no  wall  around  it,  but 
the  houses  extend  for  about  a  mile,  built  close  together,  and 
then  the  wide  houses,  that  is,  the  houses  separate  one  from 
the  other,1  cover  a  space  of  about  six  miles.  The  houses  are 
very  poor.  The  walls  are  about  as  high  as  a  man  on  horse- 
back, and  the  greater  part  are  covered  with  leaves,  and  with- 
out any  upper  room.  The  reason  is  this,  that  when  they 
dig  down  four  or  five  spans,  water  is  found,  and  therefore 
they  cannot  build  large  houses.3  However,  the  house  of  a 
merchant  is  worth  fifteen  or  twenty  ducats.  Those  of  the 
common  people  are  worth  half  a  ducat  each,  or  one  or  two 
ducats  at  the  most. 


The  King  of  Calicut  is  a  Pagan,  and  worships  the  devil 
in  the  manner  you  shall  hear.  They  acknowledge  that  there 
is  a  God  who  has  created  the  heaven  and  the  earth  and  all 

India  ;"  and  'Abd  er-Razzak  as  "  a  perfectly  secure  harbour,  which,  like 
that  of  Horinuz,  brings  together  merchants  from  every  city,  and  from 
every  country." 

1  That  is,  houses  with  compounds,  as  the  open  space  around  them  is 
called  by  Anglo-Indians. 

2  In  a  subsequent  chapter,  Varthema  alleges  the  same  reason  for  the 
lowness  and  insignificance  of  the  Zamorin's  palace  at  Calicut.  The 
following  extract  from  Hamilton  seems  to  corroborate  his  statement  : — 
"  In  anno  1703,  about  the  middle  of  February,  I  called  at  Calecut  on 
my  way  to  Surat,  and,  standing  into  the  road,  I  chanced  to  strike  on 
some  of  the  ruins  of  the  sunken  town  built  by  the  Portuguese  in  former 
times.  Whether  that  town  was  swallowed  up  by  an  earthquake,  as 
some  affirm,  or  whether  it  was  undermined  by  the  sea,  I  will  not  deter- 
mine."    Pinkerton's  Voyages,  vol.  viii.  p.  378. 


the  world;1  and  they  say  that  if  he  wished  to  judge  you  and 
me,  a  third  and  a  fourth,  he  would  have  no  pleasure  in  being 
Lord  ;  but  that  he  has  sent  this  his  spirit,  that  is  the  devil, 
into  this  world  to  do  justice:  and  to  him  who  does  good  he  does 
good,  and  to  him  who  does  evil  he  does  evil.  Which  devil 
they  call  Deumo,2  and  God  they  call  Tamerani.3  And  the 
King  of  Calicut  keeps  this  Deumo  in  his  chapel  in  his 
palace,  in  this  wise  :  his  chapel  is  two  paces  wide  in  each  of 
the  four  sides,  and  three  paces  high,  with  a  wooden  door 
covered  with  devils  carved  in  relief.4  In  the  midst  of  this 
chapel  there  is  a  devil  made  of  metal,  placed  in  a  seat  also 
made  of  metal.  The  said  devil  has  a  crown  made  like  that 
of  the  papal  kingdom,  with  three  crowns  ;  and  it  also  has 
four  horns  and  four  teeth,  with  a  very  large  mouth,  nose, 
and  most  terrible  eyes.  The  hands  are  made  like  those  of  a 
flesh-hook,  and  the  feet  like  those  of  a  cock ;  so  that  he 
is  a  fearful  object  to  behold.  All  the  pictures  around  the 
said  chapel  are  those  of  devils,  and  on  each  side  of  it  there 

1  "  They  all  believe  in  a  great  God,  whose  image  they  can  neither 
fancy  nor  make."     Hamilton. 

-  "  The  word  Dev  means,  indefinitely,  a  dweller  in  the  upper  worlds, 
and,  more  particularly,  an  inhabitant  of  Swerga,  the  paradise  where 
Indra  rules.  Three  hundred  and  thirty  millions  of  Devs  are  spoken  of 
in  the  Hindu  scriptures  ;  but,  in  its  sense  of  God,  the  term  can  only 
apply  to  one  being."  (See  Forbes's  Has  Maid,  vol.  ii.  pp.  423-442,  for 
an  able  dissertation  on  this  subject.)  Varthema  draws  a  distinction 
between  a  "  Diavolo  "  and  a  "  Sathanas,"  evidently  making  the  latter 
the  higher  personage  ;  but  it  is  surprising  that  he  gives  so  tolerably 
correct  an  account  of  the  Hindu  theogony  and  worship. 

3  Tambaran,  lord  or  master,  is  a  common  title  of  honour,  throughout 
Malabar,  among  the  higher  classes  of  Nairs. 

4  "  The  great  men  of  the  clergy  build  temples,  but  they  are  neither 
large  nor  beautiful.  Their  images  are  all  black  and  deformed,  accord- 
ing as  they  fancy  the  infernal  gods  to  be  shaped,  who,  they  believe,  have 
some  hand  in  governing  the  world,  particularly  about  the  benign  and 
malignant  seasons  that  happen  in  the  productions  or  sterility  of  the 
earth,  for  which  reason  they  pay  a  lateral  adoration  to  them."  (Pinker- 
ton's  Voyages,  vol.  viii.  p.  37C.)  This  quotation  from  Hamilton  shows 
that,  like  Varthema,  he  understood  the  Devs  to  be  devils. 

138  THE    TRAVELS    OF 

is  a  Sathanas  seated  in  a  seat,  which  seat  is  placed  In  a  flame 
of  fire,  wherein  are  a  great  number  of  souls,  of  the  length  of 
half  a  finger  and  a  finger  of  the  hand.  And  the  said  Satha- 
nas holds  a  soul  in  his  mouth  with  the  right  hand,  and  with 
the  other  seizes  a  soul  under  the  waist.  Every  morning  the 
Brahmins,  that  is  the  priests,  go  to  wash  the  said  idol  all  over 
with  scented  water,  and  then  they  perfume  it  ;l  and  when  it 
is  perfumed  they  worship  it ;  and  some  time  in  the  course  of 
the  week  they  offer  sacrifice  to  it  in  this  manner  :  They  have 
a  certain  small  table,  made  and  ornamented  like  an  altar, 
three  spans  high  from  the  ground,  four  spans  wide,  and  five 
long ;  which  table  is  extremely  well  adorned  with  roses, 
flowers,  and  other  ornaments.  Upon  this  table  they  have 
the  blood  of  a  cock  and  lighted  coals  in  a  vessel  of  silver, 
with  many  perfumes  upon  them.  They  also  have  a  thurible, 
with  which  they  scatter  incense  around  the  said  altar.  They 
have  a  little  bell  of  silver  which  rings  very  frequently,  and 
they  have  a  silver  knife  with  which  they  have  killed  the 
cock,  and  which  they  tinge  with  the  blood,  and  sometimes 
place  it  upon  the  fire,  and  sometimes  they  take  it  and  make 
motions  similar  to  those  which  one  makes  who  is  about  to 
fence ;  and  finally,  all  that  blood  is  burnt,  the  waxen  tapers 
being  kept  lighted  during  the  whole  time.  The  priest  who  is 
about  to  perform  this  sacrifice  puts  upon  his  arms,  hands, 
and  feet  some  bracelets  of  silver,  which  make  a  very  great 
noise  like  bells,  and  he  wears  on  his  neck  an  amulet  (what 
it  is  I  do  not  know) ;  and  when  he  has  finished  performing 
the  sacrifice,  he  takes  both  his  hands  full  of  grain  and  retires 
from  the  said  altar,  walking  backwards  and  always  looking 
at  the  altar  until  he  arrives  at  a  certain  tree.  And  when  he 
has  reached  the  tree,  he  throws  the  grain  above  his  head  as 

1  Forbes  says  :  "The  ordinary  Hindu  religious  service  consists  in  per- 
forming for  the  idol  such  acts  as  a  menial  servant  performs  for  his 
human  master."  Among  these,  which  are  given  in  detail,  he  describes 
the  anointing  of  the  Dev  with  sandal-wood  dust  and  water,  and  the 
burning  of  incense  before  him. 


high  as  he  can  over  the  tree ;  he  then  returns  and  removes 
everything  from  the  altar.1 


When  the  King  of  Calicut  wishes  to  eat  he  uses  the  fol- 
lowing customs :  you  must  know  that  four  of  the  principal 
Brahmins  take  the  food  which  the  king  is  to  eat  and  carry 
it  to  the  devil,  and  first  they  worship  him  in  this  manner  : 
they  raise  their  clasped  hands  over  his  head,  and  then  draw 
their  hands  towards  them,  still  clasped  together,  and  the 
thumb  raised  upwards,  and  then  they  present  to  him  the 
food  which  is  to  be  given  to  the  king,  and  stand  in  this 
manner  as  long  as  a  person  would  require  to  eat  it ;  and  then 
the  said  Brahmins  carry  that  food  to  the  king.  You  must 
know  that  this  is  done  only  for  the  purpose  of  paying  honour 
to  that  idol,  in  order  that  it  may  appear  that  the  king  will 
not  eat  unless  the  food  has  been  first  presented  to  Deumo.2 

1  I  have  not  been  able  to  verify  this  particular  service  ;  but  it  is 
generally  known  that  animal  sacrifices,  propitiatory  of  the  Bhuta,  or 
•wicked  spirits,  are  offered  by  several  sects  of  the  Brahmins.  Among 
the  victims  so  offered  by  the  Hindus  of  Mysore,  the  Abbe  Dubois  men- 
tions buflalos,  hogs,  rams,  cocks,  and  the  like.  The  amulet  (pentacola) 
noticed  by  Varthema  was  probably  the  pwavvi,  or  Brahminical  thread. 

2  An  apt  illustration  of  what  St.  Paul  says  (1  Cor.  viii.)  respecting 
meats  offered  to  idols. 

A  Brahmin  can  only  eat  of  what  is  prepared  by  one  of  his  own  caste. 
Buchanan  states  that  the  Kuriim,  the  highest  order  of  Nairs  in  Malabar, 
act  as  cooks  on  all  public  occasions,  which,  among  Hindus,  is  a  sure 
mark  of  transcendent  rank  ;  for  every  person  can  eat  the  food  prepared 
by  one  of  higher  birth  than  himself.  Marco  Polo  notices  the  custom 
prevailing  among  the  Brahmins  of  eating  off  leaves: — "Instead  of  dishes, 
they  lay  their  victuals  on  dry  leaves  of  the  apples  of  Paradise,"  meaning, 
probably,  the  plantain.  See  Pinkerton's  Voyages,  vol.  viii.  pp.  735-6. 
Gkeene's  Collection,  vol.  iv.  p.  610. 

The  elaborate  ceremonial  of  a  Brahmin's  repast  is  thus  described  by 
Forbes: — "The  Brahmin,  when  his  food  is  ready,  before  eating,  performs 

140  THE    TRAVELS    OF 

This  food  is  in  a  wooden  vessel,  in  which  there  is  a  very- 
large  leaf  of  a  tree,  and  upon  this  leaf  is  placed  the  said 
food,  which  consists  of  rice  and  other  things.  The  king  eats 
on  the  ground  without  any  other  thing.  And  when  he  eats, 
the  Brahmins  stand  around,  three  or  four  paces  distant  from 
him,  with  great  reverence,  and  remain  bowed  down  with 
their  hands  before  their  mouths,  and  their  backs  bent.  No 
one  is  allowed  to  speak  while  the  king  is  speaking,  and  they 
stand  listening  to  his  words  with  great  reverence.  When 
the  king  has  finished  his  meal,  the  said  Brahmins  take  that 
food  which  the  king  did  not  require  and  carry  it  into  a  court 
yard  and  place  it  on  the  ground.  And  the  said  Brahmins 
clap  their  hands  three  times,  and  at  this  clapping  a  very 
great  number  of  black  crows  come  to  this  said  food  and  eat 
it.1    These  crows  are  used  for  this  purpose,  and  they  are  free 

Turjmn,  that  is  to  say,  he  fills  a  copper  with  water,  and  puts  therein  a 
few  grains  of  barley,  some  sesamum,  leaves  of  the  sacred  basil  tree, 
sandal,  etc.  ;  then,  holding  some  sacrificial  grass,  he  fills  his  joined 
hands  with  water,  which  he  pours  back  again  into  the  cup,  saying  :  '  I 
offer  this  water  to  all  the  Devs.'  He  proceeds  to  make  similar  offerings 
of  water  to  men,  animals,  trees,  rivers,  seas,  Bhuts,  Frets,  Reeshees,  pro- 
genitors, and  others.  Then  he  mentions  the  names,  as  many  as  he  can 
recollect,  of  his  father's  ancestors,  his  mother's  ancestors,  and  his  own 
deceased  friends.  He  now  performs  horn,  or  fire  worship,  by  throwing  a 
portion  of  rice  and  clarihed  butter  into  a  little  copper  or  earthen  vessel 
containing  fire,  repeating,  while  so  employed,  the  names  of  the  Devs. 
The  Brahmin  sets  aside  five  portions  of  food  for  cows,  beggars,  dogs,  ants, 
and  crows.  He  then  takes  a  little  of  each  dish,  and  offers  it  to  the 
Dev,  in  a  vessel  containing  five  divisions.  He  now  sits  down  to  break- 
fast."    lids  Maid,  vol.  ii.  p.  257. 

1  In  Western  India  these  birds  do  not  generally  wait  to  be  summoned: 
the  difficulty  is  to  scare  them  away  when  food  is  being  served.  Their 
cunning,  moreover,  equals  their  pertinacity.  I  once  saw  a  proof  of  this, 
which  I  could  hardly  have  believed  on  the  testimony  of  another.  A 
flock  of  crows  covered  the  branches  of  a  tree,  waiting  for  any  offal  from 
a  dinner  which  had  just  terminated.  A  dog  brought  out  a  bone  into 
the  garden,  and  was  quietly  enjoying  it,  when  the  whole  bevy  alighted 
and  commenced  an  attack  upon  him  in  front.  As  often  as  they  charged 
in  that  direction  the  dog  kept  them  at  bay,  until  at  length,  as  if  by 
concert  among  themselves,  one  of  the  assailants  moved  to  the  rear  and 


and  go   wherever   they   please,  and   no   injury   is   done   to 


It  is  a  proper,  and  at  the  same  time  a  pleasant  thing  to 
know  who  these  Brahmins  are.  You  must  know  that  they 
are  the  chief  persons  of  the  faith,  as  priests  are  among  us. 
And  when  the  king  takes  a  wife  he  selects  the  most  worthy 
and  the  most  honoured  of  these  Brahmins  and  makes  him 
sleep  the  first  night  with  his  wife,  in  order  that  he  may  de- 
flower her.1  Do  not  imagine  that  the  Brahmin  goes  willingly 
to  perform  this  operation.  The  king  is  even  obliged  to  pay 
him  four  hundred  or  five  hundred  ducats.  The  king  only 
and  no  other  person  in  Calicut  adopts  this  practice.  We 
will  now  describe  what  classes  [or  castes]  of  Pagans  there  are 
in  Calicut. 


The  first  class  of  Pagans  in  Calicut  are  called  Brahmins. 
The  second  are  Naeri,  who  are  the  same  as  the  gentlefolks 

quietly  pecked  at  the  clog's  tail.  While  he  savagely  faced  about  to  re- 
pel this  unexpected  assault,  one  of  the  enemy  in  front  pounced  upon  the 
contested  bone  and  carried  it  away  in  triumph. 

1  Hamilton  says  :  "  When  the  Samorin  marries,  he  must  not  cohabit 
with  his  bride  till  the  Nambourie,  or  chief  priest,  has  enjoyed  her,  and, 
if  he  pleases,  he  may  have  three  nights  of  her  company,  because  the 
first-fruits  of  her  nuptials  must  be  an  holy  oblation  to  the  god  she  wor- 
ships." Buchanan  confirms  the  statement:  —"These  ladies  [of  the  Tamuri 
family]  are  generally  impregnated  by  Namburis  ;  although  if  they  choose 
they  may  employ  the  higher  ranks  of  Nairs  ;  but  the  sacred  character  of 
the  Namburis  always  procures  them  a  preference."  Pinkeiiton's  Voy- 
ages, vol.  viii.  pp.  374,  734. 

142  THE    TRAVELS    OF 

amongst  us  ;  and  these  are  obliged  to  bear  sword  and  shield 
or  bows  or  lances.  When  they  go  through  the  street,  if 
they  did  not  carry  arms  they  would  no  longer  be  gentlemen. 
The  third  class  of  Pagans  are  called  Tiva,  who  areartizans.  The 
fourth  class  are  called  Mechua,  and  these  are  fishermen. 
The  fifth  class  are  called  Poliar,  who  collect  pepper,  wine, 
and  nuts.  The  sixth  class  are  called  Hirava,  and  these 
plant  and  gather  in  rice.  These  two  last  classes  of  people, 
that  is  to  say,  the  Poliar  and  Hirava,  may  not  approach 
cither  the  Naeri  or  the  Brahmins  within  fifty  paces,  unless 
they  have  been  called  by  them,  and  they  always  go  by 
private  ways  through  the  marshes.  And  when  they  pass 
through  the  said  places,  they  always  go  crying  out  with  a 
loud  voice,  and  this  they  do  in  order  that  they  may  not  meet 
the  Naeri  or  the  Brahmins ;  for  should  they  not  be  crying 
out,  and  any  of  the  Narei  should  be  going  that  way  and  see 
their  fruits,  or  meet  any  of  the  said  class,  the  above  men- 
tioned Naeri  may  kill  them  without  incurring  any  punish- 
ment :  and  for  this  reason  they  always  cry  out.  So  now 
you  have  heard  about  these  six  classes  of  Pagans.1 

1  Hamilton's  classification  reads  like  a  revised  version  of  Vartherna's : 
— "  There  are  many  degrees  or  dignities  in  the  church  as  well  as  in  the 
state.  The  Nambouris  are  first  in  both  capacities.  The  Brahmins  are 
the  second  in  the  church  only.  The  Buts,  or  magicians,  are  next  to 
them.  The  Nayers,  or  gentlemen,  are  next,  and  are  very  numerous. 
The  Teyvees  are  the  farmers  of  cocoa-nut  trees,  and  are  next  to  the 
gentry.  The  Poulias "produce  the  labourers  and  mechanics.  The  Muck- 
was,  or  fishers,  are  I  think  a  higher  tribe  than  the  Poulias,  but  the 
PouUchees  are  the  lowest  order  of  human  creatures,  and  are  excluded 
from  the  benefit  of  divine  and  human  laws.  If  a  Poulia  or  Teyvee  meet 
a  Nair  on  the  road,  he  must  go  aside  to  let  his  worship  pass,  lest  the  air 
should  be  tainted,  on  pain  of  severe  chastisement  if  not  of  death ;  but 
the  Poulichees  are  in  a  much  worse  state... If  accidentally  they  see  any 
one  coming  towards  them,  they  will  howl  like  dogs,  and  run  away,  lest 
those  of  quality  should  take  offence  at  their  breathing  in  the  same  air 
that  they  do."  The  Poulichees  seem  to  be  the  same  people  that 
Buchanan  describes  under  the  name  of  Niadis,  and  both  bear  a  general 
resemblance  to  Vartherna's  "  Hirava,"  though  he  describes  them  as  culti- 
vators of  rice,  whereas  the  former  are  not  allowed  to  till  the  ground,  but 





The  dress  of  the  king  and  queen,  and  of  all  the  others, 
that  is  to  say,  of  the  natives  of  the  country,  is  this  :  they  go 
naked  and  with  bare  feet,  and  wear  a  piece  of  cotton  or  of 
silk  around  their  middle,  and  with  nothing  on  their  heads.1 
Some  Moorish  merchants,  on  the  other  hand,  wear  a  short 
shirt  extending  to  the  waist ;  but  all  the  Pagans  go  without 
a  shirt.  In  like  manner  the  women  go  naked  like  the  men, 
and  wear  their  hair  long.  With  respect  to  the  food  of  the 
king  and  the  gentlemen,  they  do  not  eat  flesh  without  the 
permission  of  the  Brahmins.  But  the  other  classes  of  the 
people  eat  flesh  of  all  kinds,  with  the  exception  of  cow  beef.3 
And  these  Hirava  and  foliar  eat  mice  and  fish  dried  in  the 


The  king  being  dead,  and  having  male  children,  or 
brothers,  or  nephews  on  his  brother's  side,  neither  his  sons, 
nor  his  brother,  nor  his  nephews  become  king ;  but  the  heir 
of  the  king  is  the  son  of  one  of  his  sisters.3    And  if  there  be 

dwell  in  woods  and  marshes,  and  subsist  chiefly  on  hunting  and  beg- 
ging.    See  Pinkerton's  Voyages,  vol.  viii.  pp.  375,  738-9. 

1  As  Ralph  Fitch  quaintly  says  :  "  The  king  goeth  incached,  as  they 
do  all." 

2  "None  of  the  southern  Brahmins  can,  without  losing  caste,  taste 
animal  food... The  Nairs  are  permitted  to  eat  venison,  goats,  fowls,  and 
fish."     Buchanan. 

3  Buchanan  confirms  this.  He  says  :  "  The  succession  goes  in  the 
female  line  ;"  and  adds,  in  speaking  of  a  particular  case  wherein  a 
nephew  was  heir  to  the  rajahship  :  "  his  son  will  have  no  claim  to  it, 
and  he  will  be  succeeded  by  the  son  of  his  niece,  who  is  the  daughter  of 

144  THE    TRAVELS    OF 

no  son  of  a  said  sister,  the  nearest  [collateral]  relation  of  the 
king  succeeds  him.  And  this  custom  prevails  because  the 
Brahmins  have  the  virginity  of  the  queen  ;  and  likewise 
when  the  king  travels,  one  of  these  Brahmins,  although  he 
might  be  only  twenty  years  of  age,  remains  in  the  house 
with  the  queen,  and  the  king  would  consider  it  to  be  the 
greatest  favour  that  these  Brahmins  should  be  familiar  with 
the  queen,  and  on  this  account  they  say  that  it  is  certain  that 
his  sister  and  he  were  born  of  the  same  person,  and  that  there 
is  more  certainty  about  her  than  of  his  own  children,  and 
therefore  the  inheritance  falls  to  the  sons  of  the  sister.  Also  on 
the  death  of  the  king  all  the  people  of  the  kingdom  shave  their 
beards  and  their  heads,  with  the  exception  of  some  part  of 
the  head,  and  also  of  the  beard,  according  to  the  pleasure  of 
each  person.  The  fishermen  also  are  not  allowed  to  catch 
any  fish  for  eight  days.  The  same  customs  are  observed 
when  a  near  relative  of  the  king  dies.  As  an  act  of  devotion, 
the  king  does  not  sleep  with  a  woman  or  eat  betel  for  a 
whole  year.  This  betel  resembles  the  leaves  of  the  sour 
orange,  and  they  are  constantly  eating  it.  It  is  the  same  to 
them  that  confections  are  to  us,  and  they  eat  it  more  for 
sensuality  than  for  any  other  purpose.  AVhen  they  eat  the 
said  leaves,  they  eat  with  them  a  certain  fruit  which  is  called 
coffolo,  and  the  tree  of  the  said  coffolo  is  called  Arecha,1  and 
is  formed  like  the  stem  of  the  date  tree,  and  produces  its 
fruit  in  the  same  manner.  And  they  also  cat  with  the  said 
leaves  a  certain  lime  made  from  oyster  shells,  which  they 
call  Cionama? 

his  sister."  (Pinkerton's  Voyages,  vol.  viii.  p.  745.)  It  was  the  same 
in  Ibn  Batiita's  time  : — "  Each  of  their  kings  succeeds  to  rule  as  being 
sister's  son,  not  the  son  to  the  last."     Lee's  Translation,  p.  167. 

1  The  Areca  palm. 

2  Chunam,  the  common  Hindustani  word  for  lime. 



The  Pagan  gentlemen  and  merchants  have  this  custom 
amongst  them.  There  will  sometimes  be  two  merchants  who 
will  be  great  friends,  and  each  will  have  a  wife ;  and  one 
merchant  will  say  to  the  other  in  this  wise :  "  Langal  per- 
ganal  monaton  ondo  ?"1  that  is,  "  So-and-so,  have  we  been  a 
long  time  friends  ?  "  The  other  will  answer  :  "  Hognan 
perga  manaton  ondo  ;"  that  is,  "  Yes,  I  have  for  a  long  time 
been  your  friend."  The  other  says:  "  Nipatanga  ciolli ? " 
that  is,  "  Do  you  speak  the  truth  that  you  are  my  friend  ? " 
The  other  will  answer,  and  say :  "  Ho ; "  that  is,  "  Yes." 
Says  the  other  one  :  "  Tamarani  ?  "  that  is,  "  By  God  ?  " 
The  other  replies  :  "  Tamarani !  "  that  is,  "  By  God  !  "     One 

1  I  had  hoped  to  have  been  able,  by  the  assistance  of  others,  to  reduce 
this  and  the  subsequent  native  words  and  phrases  introduced  by  Var- 
thema  into  readable  Malayalim,  in  the  same  manner  as  I  have  treated 
his  Arabic  sentences  ;  but  the  attempt  has  proved  unsuccessful.  Two 
Malayalim  scholars,  to  whom  they  were  submitted,  concur  in  forming  a 
very  low  estimate  of  our  traveller's  attainments  in  that  language.  One 
of  the  gentlemen  states  that  a  the  majority  of  the  words  are  not 
Malayalim,  or,  if  they  are,  the  writer  has  trusted  to  his  ear,  and  made  a 
marvellous  confusion,  which  I  defy  anybody  to  unravel."  This  is  not 
to  be  wondered  at  ;  on  the  contrary,  there  would  have  been  reasonable 
ground  for  surprise  if,  under  his  peculiar  circumstances,  Varthema  had 
succeeded  in  mastering,  even  to  a  tolerable  extent,  any  one  of  the 
native  languages.  During  his  sojourn  in  the  country,  which  was  com- 
paratively short,  and  seldom  lasting  more  than  a  few  days  at  each  place, 
he  must  have  heard  several  different  dialects  spoken,  without  any 
definite  knowledge,  perhaps,  that  they  were  such.  Moreover,  as  his 
most  intimate  associates  appear  to  have  been  the  Arab  traders,  who, 
however  long  their  intercourse  with  India,  seldom  speak  any  of  the 
native  languages  correctly,  he  most  probably  acquired  most  of  his  vocabu- 
lary from  them,  jumbling  that  up  with  words  and  phrases  which  he  had 
picked  up  here  and  there  along  the  coast.  The  specimens  of  his  Arabic 
are  undoubtedly  far  superior  to  his  essays  in  Malayalim,  and,  although 
strongly  Italianized,  by  no  means  inferior  to  the  colloquial  of  the 
majority  of  his  countrymen  at  the  present  day  after  a  much  longer 
residence  in  the  East  where  that  is  the  vernacular  language. 

146  THE    TRAVELS    OF 

says  :  "  In  penna  tonda  gnan  pcnna  cortu;  "  that  is,  "  Let  us 
exchange  wives,  give  me  your  wife  and  I  will  give  you 
mine."  The  other  answers:  "  Ni  pantagocciolli?  "  that  is, 
"  Do  you  speak  from  your  heart  ?  "  The  other  says  : 
"Tamarani!"  that  is,  "  Yes,  by  God!"  His  companion 
answers,  and  says :  "  Biti  banno ;  "  that  is,  "  Come  to  my 
house."  And  when  he  has  arrived  at  his  house  he  calls  his 
wife  and  says  to  her  :  "  Penna,  ingaba  idocon  dopoi ;  "  that 
is,  "  Wife,  come  here,  go  with  this  man,  for  he  is  your  hus- 
band." The  wife  answers:  "E  indi?"  that  is,  "Wherefore? 
Dost  thou  speak  the  truth,  by  God,  Tamarani?"  The  hus- 
band replies  :  "  Ho  gran  patangociolli;  "  that  is,  "  I  speak 
the  truth."  Says  the  wife  :  "  Perga  manno  ;  "  that  is,  "  It 
pleases  me."  "  Gnan  poi ;  "  that  is,  "  I  go."  And  so  she 
goes  away  with  his  companion  to  his  house.  The  friend  then 
tells  his  wife  to  go  with  the  other,  and  in  this  manner  they 
exchange  their  wives;  but  the  sons  of  each  remain  with  him. 
And  amongst  the  other  classes  of  Pagans  above-mentioned, 
one  woman  has  five,  six,  and  seven  husbands,  and  even 
eight.1  And  one  sleeps  with  her  one  night,  and  another 
another  night.     And  when  the  woman  has  children,  she  says 

1  The  polyandria  which  prevailed  at  Calicut  is  also  described  by 
Nicolo  de'  Conti  and  'Abd  er-Razzak.  The  three  accounts  vary  in  detail, 
and,  as  might  be  expected  on  a  subject  so  intimately  connected  with  the 
domestic  life  of  the  natives,  involve  several  misconceptions.  Dr. 
Buchanan's  more  accurate  version  of  the  custom  is  as  follows: — "The 
Nail's  marry  before  they  are  ten  years  of  age  ;...but  the  husband  never 
cohabits  with  his  wife.  Such  a  circumstance,  indeed,  would  be  con- 
sidered very  indecent.  He  allows  her  oil,  clothing,  ornaments,  and  food; 
but  she  lives  in  her  mother's  house,  or,  after  her  parents'  death,  with 
her  brother,  and  cohabits  with  any  person  she  chooses  of  an  equal  or 
higher  rank  than  her  own. ..It  is  no  kind  of  reflection  on  a  woman's 
character  to  say  that  she  has  formed  the  closest  intimacy  with  many 
persons  ;  on  the  contrary,  the  Nail  women  are  proud  of  reckoning 
among  their  favoured  lovers  many  Brahmins,  Rajahs,  or  other  persons 
of  high  birth. ..In  consequence  of  this  strange  manner  of  propagating 
1 1 10  species,  no  Nair  knows  his  father,  and  every  man  looks  on  his  sisters' 
children  as  his  heirs."     Pinkerton's  Voyages,  vol.  viii.  p.  737. 


it  is  the  child  of  this  husband  or  of  that  husband,  and  thus 
the  children  go  according  to  the  word  of  the  woman. 




The  said  Pagans  eat  on  the  ground  in  a  metal  basin,  and 
for  a  spoon  make  use  of  the  leaf  of  a  tree,  and  they  always 
eat  rice  and  fish,  and  spices  and  fruits.  The  two  classes  of 
peasants  eat  with  the  hand  from  a  pipkin ;  and  when  they 
take  the  rice  from  the  pipkin,  they  hold  the  hand  over  the 
said  pipkin  and  make  a  ball  of  the  rice,  and  then  put  it  into 
their  mouths.  With  respect  to  the  laws  which  are  in  use 
among  these  people: — If  one  kills  another,  the  king  causes  a 
stake  to  be  taken  four  paces  long  and  well  pointed  at  one 
end,  and  has  two  sticks  fixed  across  the  said  stake  two  spans 
from  the  top,  and  then  the  said  wood  is  fixed  in  the  middle 
of  the  back  of  the  malefactor  and  passes  through  his  body, 
and  in  this  way  he  dies.  And  this  torture  they  call  imcalvet. 
And  if  there  be  any  one  who  inflicts  wounds  or  bastinadoes, 
the  king  makes  him  pay  money,  and  in  this  manner  he  is 
absolved.  And  when  any  one  ought  to  receive  money  from 
another  merchant,  there  appearing  any  writing  of  the  scribes 
of  the  king,  (who  has  at  least  a  hundred  of  them,)  they  observe 
this  practice : — Let  us  suppose  the  case  that  some  one  has  to 
pay  me  twenty-five  ducats,  and  the  debtor  promises  me  to 
pay  them  many  times,  and  does  not  pay  them ;  I,  not  being 
willing  to  wait  any  longer,  nor  to  give  him  any  indulgence, 
shall  take  a  green  branch  in  my  hand,  shall  go  softly  behind 
the  debtor,  and  with  the  said  branch  shall  draw  a  circle  on 
the  ground  surrounding  him,  and  if  I  can  enclose  him  in  the 
circle,  I  shall  say  to  him  these  words  three  times :  "  Bra- 
mini  raza  pertha  polle ; "  that  is,  "  I  command  you  by  the 

148  THE    TRAVELS    OF 

head  of  the  Brahmins  and  of  the  king,  that  you  do  not  depart 
hence  until  you  have  paid  me  and  satisfied  me  as  much  as  I 
ought  to  have  from  thee."  And  he  will  satisfy  me,  or  truly 
he  will  die  there  without  any  other  guard.  And  should  he 
quit  the  said  circle  and  not  pay  me,  the  king  would  put  him 
to  death.1 

1  It  is  remarkable  that  the  administration  of  justice  in  India  has  been 
the  theme  of  general  admiration  from  the  earliest  times.  Greek  and 
Roman  writers,  from  Diodorus  Siculus  downward,  have  eulogized  it, 
Marco  Polo  witnesses  on  the  same  side,  and  later  Arabian  authors  con- 
firm their  favourable  testimony.  El-Edrisi  says  :  "  Justice  is  a  natural 
instinct  among  the  inhabitants  of  India,  and  they  hold  nothing  in  equal 
estimation.  It  is  stated  that  their  numbers  and  prosperity  are  due  to 
their  integrity,  their  fidelity  in  fulfilling  engagements,  and  to  the  general 
uprightness  of  their  conduct.  It  is,  moreover,  on  this  account  that 
visitors  to  their  country  have  increased,  that  the  country  nourishes,  and 
that  the  people  thrive  in  plenty  and  in  peace.  As  a  proof  of  their  ad- 
herence to  what  is  right  and  their  abhorrence  of  what  is  wrong  may  be 
instanced  the  following  usage  :  if  one  man  owes  another  money,  the 
creditor  finding  him  anywhere  draws  a  line  in  the  shape  of  a  ring 
around  him.  This  the  creditor  enters,  and  also  the  debtor  of  his  own 
free  will,  and  the  latter  cannot  go  beyond  it  until  he  has  satisfied  the 
claimant  ;  but  should  the  creditor  decline  to  force  him,  or  chooses  to 
forgive  him,  he,  the  creditor,  steps  out  of  the  ring."  'Abd  er-Razzak 
also,  speaking  of  Calicut,  says  :  "  Security  and  justice  are  so  firmly 
established  in  this  city,  that  the  most  wealthy  merchants  bring  thither 
from  maritime  countries  considerable  cargoes,  which  they  unload,  and 
unhesitatingly  send  into  the  market  and  bazaars,  without  thinking  in 
the  meantime  of  any  necessity  of  checking  the  account,  or  of  keeping 
watch  over  the  goods."     India  in  the  Fifteenth  Century,  i.  p.  14. 

The  mode  of  procedure  against  debtors,  as  described  by  El-Edrisi 
and  Varthema,  and  which  Marco  Polo,  before  them,  states  to  have  seen 
carried  out  against  the  person  of  the  king  of  Malabar,  is  confirmed  by 
Hamilton  with  slight  variation  : — "  They  have  a  good  way  of  arresting 
people  for  debt,  viz.  there  is  a  proper  person  sent  with  a  small  stick  from 
the  judge,  who  is  generally  a  Brahmin,  and  when  that  person  finds  the 
debtor,  he  draws  a  circle  round  him  with  that  stick,  aud  charges  him  in 
the  king  and  judge's  name  not  to  stir  out  of  it  till  the  creditor  is  satis- 
fied either  by  payment  or  surety  ;  and  it  is  no  less  than  death  for  the 
debtor  to  break  prison  by  going  out  of  the  circle."  Pinkerton's  Voy- 
ages, vol.  viii.  p.  377. 

Diodorus  Siculus  mentions  the  punishment  by  impaling  as  existing  in 
India.     Lib.  ii.  18. 



Early  in  the  morning  these  Pagans  go  to  wash  at  a  tank, 
which  tank  is  a  pond  of  still  water.  And  when  they  are 
washed,  they  may  not  touch  any  person  until  they  have  said 
their  prayers,  and  this  in  their  house.1  And  they  say  their 
prayers  in  this  manner  : — They  lie  with  their  body  extended 
on  the  ground  and  very  secret,  and  they  perform  certain  dia- 
bolical actions  [or  motions]  with  their  eyes,  and  with  their 
mouths  they  perform  certain  fearful  actions  [or  motions]  ; 
and  this  lasts  for  a  quarter  of  an  hour,  and  then  comes  the 
hour  for  eating.  And  they  cannot  eat  unless  the  cooking  is 
performed  by  the  hands  of  a  gentleman,  for  the  ladies  only 
cook  for  themselves.  And  this  is  the  custom  among  the 
gentlemen.  The  ladies  wait  to  wash  and  perfume  them- 
selves. And  every  time  that  a  man  wishes  to  associate  with 
his  wife,  she  washes  and  perfumes  herself  very  delicately  ; 
but,  under  any  circumstances,  they  always  go  scented  and 
covered  with  jewels,  that  is  to  say,  on  their  hands  and  in 
their  ears,  on  their  feet  and  on  their  arms. 


In  general  they  practise  every  day  with  swords,  shields, 
and  lances.  And  when  they  go  to  war,  the  king  of  Calicut 
maintains  constantly  one  hundred  thousand  people  on  foot, 
because  they  do  not  make  use  of  horses,  only  of  some  ele- 

1  Brahmins  are  obliged  to  wash  the  whole  body  before  eating.  Some 
are  under  a  vow  to  bathe  before  sun-rise,  which  they  do  either  in  warm 
water  at  home,  or  in  a  tank  or  river.  After  dressing,  the  Brahmin  sits 
down  to  eat,  but  must  preserve  himself  from  numerous  accidents  which 
would  render  him  impure,  and  compel  him  to  desist  from  his  meal.  See 
Forbes's  Rds  Maid,  vol.  ii.  pp.  255-8. 

150  THE    TRAVELS    OF 

phants  for  the  person  of  the  king.  And  all  the  people  wear 
a  cloth  bound  round  the  head,  made  of  silk  and  of  a  vermilion 
colour,  and  they  carry  swords,  shields,  lances,  and  bows. 
The  king  carries  an  umbrella1  instead  of  a  standard,  made 
like  the  stem  of  a  boot :  it  is  formed  of  the  leaves  of  a  tree, 
and  is  fixed  on  the  end  of  a  cane,  and  made  to  keep  off  the 
sun  from  the  king.  And  when  they  are  in  battle,  and  one 
army  is  distant  from  the  other  two  ranges  of  a  crossbow, 
the  king  says  to  the  Brahmins  :  "  Go  into  the  camp  of  the 
enemy,  and  tell  the  king  to  let  one  hundred  of  his  Naeri 
come,  and  I  will  go  with  a  hundred  of  mine.  And  thus  they 
both  go  to  the  middle  of  the  space,  and  begin  to  fight  in  this 
manner.  Although  they  should  fight  for  three  days,  they 
always  give  two  direct  blows  at  the  head  and  one  at  the  legs. 
And  when  four  or  six  on  either  side  are  killed,  the  Brahmins 
enter  into  the  midst  of  them,  and  make  both  parties  return 
to  their  camp.  And  the  said  Brahmins  immediately  go  to 
the  armies  on  both  sides,  and  say  :  "  Nur  manezar  hanno." 
The  king  answers  :  "  Matile  ?"  that  is,  "  Do  you  not  wish  for 
any  more  ?"  The  Brahmin  says  :  "  No."  And  the  adverse 
party  does  the  same.     And  in  this  manner  they  fight,  one 

1  The  chattra,  or  black  Chinese  umbrella,  commonly  used  in  India, 
when  folded  up,  looks  something  like  the  leg  of  a  boot.  It  is  one 
of  the  insignia  of  royalty  throughout  India,  as  it  is  with  several  other 
eastern  nations.  Malcolm  supposes  the  word  "  satrap"  to  be  a  cor- 
ruption of  chattrapa,  lord  of  the  umbrella  of  state,  which,  it  is  pro- 
bable, those  provincial  rulers  only  were  allowed  to  bear.  He  adds  : 
"  The  distinction  of  carrying  an  umbrella  is  common  to  many  countries 
of  Asia  ;  and  that  it  was  known  in  Persia,  there  can  be  no  better  evi- 
dence than  the  sculpture  of  Persepolis,  where  the  umbrella  often  marks 
the  prince,  or  chief,  of  the  group  of  figures.  Chattra,  which  signifies 
umbrella,  is  a  term  common  to  Persian  and  Sanscrit.  Pa,  a  contraction 
of  pati,  i.e.  lord,  is  now  lost  in  the  former  though  preserved  in  the  latter 
language.  The  name,  or  rather  title,  of  Chattra  pati,  or  "  lord  of  the 
umbrella,"  distinguishes  one  of  the  highest  officers  of  the  federal  govern- 
ment of  tbe  Mahratta  state."  {History  of  Persia,  vol.  i.  p.  271,  n.) 
Within  my  own  recollection,  no  person  was  allowed  to  pass  before  the 
Sultan's  palace  on  the  Bosphorus  without  lowering  his  umbrella. 


hundred  against  one  hundred.  And  this  is  their  mode  of 
fighting.  Sometimes  the  king  rides  on  an  elephant,  and 
sometimes  the  Naeri  carry  him.  And  when  they  carry  him 
they  always  run.  And  many  instruments  sounding  always 
accompany  the  said  king.  To  the  said  Naeri  he  gives  as 
pay  to  each  four  carlini  the  month,  and  in  time  of  war  he 
gives  half  a  ducat.  And  they  live  on  this  pay.  The  before- 
mentioned  race  have  black  teeth,  on  account  of  the  leaves 
which  I  have  already  told  you  they  eat.  When  the  Naeri 
die  they  are  burnt  with  very  great  solemnity,  and  some  pre- 
serve their  ashes.  But  with  respect  to  the  common  people, 
after  death  some  bury  them  within  the  door  of  their  house  ; 
others,  again,  in  their  garden.1  The  money  of  the  said  city 
is  struck  here,  as  I  have  already  told  you  in  Narsinga.  And 
inasmuch  as,  at  the  time  when  I  was  in  Calicut,  there  were 
a  very  large  number  of  merchants  there  from  different  coun- 
tries and  nations,  I  being  desirous  of  knowing  who  these 
persons  were,  so  different  one  from  the  other,  asked,  and 
was  informed  that  there  were  here  very  many  Moorish  mer- 
chants, many  from  Mecca,  a  part  from  Banghella,  some  from 
Ternasseri,  some  from  Pego,  very  many  from  Ciormandcl, 
in  great  abundance  from  Zailani,  a  great  quantity  from 
Sumatra,  not  a  few  from  Colon  and  Caicolon,  a  very  great 
number  from  Bathacala,  from  Dabuli,  from  Chievuli,  from 
Combeia,  from  Guzerati,  and  from  Ormus.  There  were  also 
some  there,  from  Persia  and  from  Arabia  Felix,  part  from 
Syria,  from  Turkey,  and  some  from  Ethiopia  and  Narsinga. 
There  were  merchants  from  all  these  realms  in  my  time.  It 
must  be  known  that  the  Pagans  do  not  navigate  much,  but  it 
is  the  Moors  who  carry  the  merchandize ;  for  in  Calicut 
there  are  at  least  fifteen  thousand  Moors,  who  are  for  the 
greater  part  natives  of  the  country.2 

1  This  is  confirmed  by  Buchanan,  who  says  that  the  Nairs  bum  their 
dead,  but  most  of  the  inferior  castes  bury. 

2  That  the  Hindoos  have  never  been  seamen  may  be  inferred  from  the 

152  THE    TRAVELS    OF 


It  appears  to  me  very  suitable  and  to  the  purpose,  that  I 
should  explain  to  you  how  these  people  navigate  along  the 
coast  of  Calicut,  and  at  what  time,  and  how  they  build  their 
vessels.  First,  they  make  their  vessels,  such  as  are  open, 
each  of  three  hundred  or  four  hundred  butts.  And  when 
they  build  the  said  vessels  they  do  not  put  any  oakum  be- 
tween one  plank  and  another  in  any  way  whatever,  but  they 
join  the  planks  so  well  that  they  keep  out  the  water  most 
excellently.  And  then  they  lay  on  pitch  outside,  and  put 
in  an  immense  quantity  of  iron  nails.  Do  not  imagine, 
however,  that  they  have  not  any  oakum,  for  it  comes  there 
in  great  abundance  from  other  countries,  but  they  are  not 
accustomed  to  use  it  for  ships.1    They  also  possess  as  good 

almost  universal  silence  of  ancient  writers  on  India  regarding  their 
maritime  affairs,  whereas  most  of  them  describe  the  constitution  of  an 
Indian  army  in  detail.  It  seems  highly  probable,  indeed,  that  the  laws 
of  Manu,  which  mention  bottomry,  and  which  led  Sir  William  Jones  to 
infer  that  the  Hindoos  must  have  been  navigators  in  the  age  of  that 
work,  referred  primarily  to  river  navigation,  the  superintendence  of 
which  was  committed  to  water-bailiffs,  whose  business,  besides,  it  was  to 
keep  the  boundaries  of  the  fields,  to  take  care  that  each  derived  benefit 
from  the  conduits  and  canals,  etc.  (See  Manu,  viii.  408-9.)  Arrian 
states  expressly  that  sea-voyages  were  forbidden,  and  Pliny,  that  Indians 
never  emigrate  (vi.  20)  ;  and  although  it  may  be  conceded  that  their 
navigation  was  not  absolutely  confined  to  rivers,  nevertheless  the  weight 
of  testimony  is  decidedly  against  the  idea  that  they  were  mariners  in 
the  ordinary  sense  of  the  word. 

It  was  undoubtedly  the  natural  or  religious  antipathy  of  the  Hindoos 
for  the  sea,  or  a  combination  of  both  sentiments,  which  threw  the  navi- 
gation of  the  Indian  ocean,  from  the  earliest  ages,  into  the  hands  of  the 
more  nautical  Arabs,  who  thereby  succeeded  eventually  in  acquiring  a 
predominating  influence  on  the  western  coast.  The  same  aversion,  pro- 
ceeding from  religious  prejudice,  is  noticed  by  Marco  Polo,  who  in  de- 
scribing the  customs  of  the  Malabariaus  remarks,  that  the  testimony  of 
one  who  sails  by  sea  was  not  admissible,  because  such  men  were  regarded 
as  desperate.     See  Pinkekton's  Voyages,  vol.  vii.  p.  163. 

1  This  description  coincides  generally  with  the  existing  mode  of  ship- 


timber  as  ourselves,  and  in  greater  quantity  than  with  us.1 
The  sails  of  these  ships  of  theirs  are  made  of  cotton,  and  at 
the  foot  of  the  said  sails  they  carry  another  sail,  and  they 
spread  this  when  they  are  sailing  in  order  to  catch  more 
wind ;  so  that  they  carry  two  sails  where  we  carry  only  one. 
They  also  carry  anchors  made  of  marble,  that  is  to  say,  a 
piece  of  marble  eight  palmi  long  and  two  palmi  every  other 
way.  The  said  marble  has  two  large  ropes  attached  to  it ; 
and  these  are  their  anchors.  The  time  of  their  navigation 
is  this:  from  Persia  to  the  Cape  of  Cumerin,  which  is  dis- 
tant from  Calicut  eight  days'  journey  by  sea  towards  the 
south.  You  can  navigate  through  eight  months  in  the  year, 
that  is  to  say,  September  to  all  April ;  then,  from  the  first 
of  May  to  the  middle  of  August  it  is  necessary  to  avoid  this 
coast  because  the  sea  is  very  stormy  and  tempestuous.  And 
you  must  know  that  during  the  months  of  May,  June,  July, 
and  August,  it  rains  constantly  night  and  day  ;  it  does  not 
merely  rain  continually,  but  every  night  and  every  day  it 
rains,  and  but  little  sun  is  seen  during  this  time.  During 
the  other  eight  months  it  never  rains.2  At  the  end  of  April 
they  depart  from  the  coast  of  Calicut,  and  pass  the  Cape  of 
Cumerin,  and  enter  into  another  course  of  navigation,  which 
is  safe  during  these  four  months,  and  go  for  small  spices.3  As 

building  on  the  Malabar  coast.  Marco  Polo  states,  however,  that  the 
vessels  which  were  constructed  there  in  his  time  were  well  caulked  with 
oakum.     A  mistake  on  his  part,  or,  perhaps,  of  his  English  translator. 

1  In  a  Report  published  by  the  Royal  Asiatic  Society,  (No.  iv.  350- 
369,)  one  hundred  and  twenty  valuable  sorts  of  timber  are  enumerated 
as  produced  in  Malabar. 

2  A  generally  correct  statement  of  the  prevailing  winds  and  weather 
during  the  two  monsoons. 

3  Many  vessels  quit  the  Malabar  coast  at  that  season  of  the  year  for 
the  Indian  Archipelago,  and  return  thither,  or  proceed  to  the  Persian 
Gulf  or  the  Red  Sea,  at  the  opening  of  the  north-east  monsoon  ;  "for  the 
south-west  monsoon,  which  prevails  outside  of  Achin-head,  from  April  to 
October,  seldom  blows  far  into  the  strait,  particularly  near  the  Sumatra 
side,  for  the  force  of  the  monsoon  being  repelled  by  the  mountains  and 

154  THE    TRAVELS   OF 

to  the  names  of  their  ships,  some  are  called  SambucJii  and 
these  are  flat-bottomed.  Some  others  which  are  made  like 
ours,  that  is  in  the  bottom,  they  call  Capel.  Some  other 
small  ships  are  called  Parao,  and  they  are  boats  of  ten 
paces  each,  and  are  all  of  one  piece,  and  go  with  oars  made 
of  cane,  and  the  mast  also  is  made  of  cane.  There  is  another 
kind  of  small  bark  called  Almadia,  which  is  all  of  one  piece. 
There  is  also  another  kind  of  vessel  which  goes  with  a  sail 
and  oars.  These  are  all  made  of  one  piece,  of  the  length  of 
twelve  or  thirteen  paces  each.  The  opening  is  so  narrow 
that  one  man  cannot  sit  by  the  side  of  the  other,  but  one  is 
obliged  to  go  before  the  other.  They  are  sharp  at  both 
ends.  These  ships  are  called  Chaturi,  and  go  either  with  a 
sail  or  oars  more  swiftly  than  any  galley,  fasta,  or  brigantine.1 
There  are  corsairs  of  the  sea,  and  these  Chaturi  are  made 
at  an  island  which  is  near,  called  Porcai.2 

high  land,  stretching  from  Achin  along  the  coast  of  Pedri,  it  is  succeeded 
hy  light  variable  winds  and  calms,  with  sometimes  land  breezes  or  hard 
squalls  from  the  Sumatra  coast  at  night."  IIoksburg's  Directory,  Part  ii. 

1  These  names  of  ships  and  boats  furnish  another  indirect  proof 
against  the  notion  that  the  early  Hindoos  were  navigators  ;  for  with  one 
exception,  viz.,  that  of  Capel  or  Kapal,  which  Crawfurd  says  is  of  Telugu 
or  Telinga  origin,  the  remainder  are  derived  from  foreign  sources.  Prau 
belongs  equally  to  the  Malay  and  Javanese  languages.  Sambuch  is 
from  the  Arabic  Sanh&k.  Almadia  is  the  Arabic  El-Maadtah,  a  ferry. 
And  Chaturi  I  take  to  be  a  corruption  of  Shakhtiir,  the  ordinary  name 
for  a  boat  on  the  coast  of  Syria,  and  one  not  unknown  in  the  Red  Sea 
and  the  Persian  Gulf.     Fusta  is  the  Italian  for  a  kind  of  light  galley. 

2  As  there  is  no  island  so  called  in  the  vicinity  of  Calicut,  I  presume 
Varthema  refers  to  the  town  of  that  name,  situated  on  the  coast,  about 
two  degrees  farther  south.  "  It  has  no  haven  or  port  of  any  kind,  and 
ships  trading  there  anchor  in  the  open  sea  off  the  town  in  two  fathoms 
water,  one  and  a  half  or  two  miles  from  shore.  It  was  formerly  a  place 
of  much  greater  importance  than  it  is  at  present,  and  was  the  principal 
place  of  a  small  raj  or  state,  which  was  subverted  in  the  year  1 74G  by 
the  rajah  of  Travancore."  (Thornton's  Gazetteer.)  Barbosa  gives  the 
following  description  of  the  place  : — "  Porca  has  a  lord  of  its  own.  Ilere 
many  Gentile  fishermen  reside  who  do  nothing,  and  have  no  other  occu- 
pation than  that  of  fishing  during  the  winter,  and  of  plundering  on  the 



The  palace  of  the  king  is  about  a  mile  in  circumference. 
The  walls  are  low,  as  I  have  mentioned  above,  with  very 
beautiful  divisions  of  wood,  with  devils  carved  in  relief. 
The  floor  of  the  house  is  all  adorned  with  cow  dung.1  The 
said  house  is  worth  two  hundred  ducats  or  thereabouts.     I 

sea  during  summer  such  as  fall  in  their  way.  They  possess  certain  small 
boats,  like  brigantines,  which  they  row  skilfully,  and  collecting  many  of 
these  together,  they  themselves  being  armed  with  bows  and  arrows, 
they  surround  any  ship  that  is  becalmed,  and  after  forcing  it  to  surrender 
by  means  of  their  arrows,  they  proceed  to  plunder  the  crew  and  the  ship, 
casting  the  men  naked  on  the  ground.  The  booty  they  divide  with  the 
lord  of  the  country,  who  countenances  them.  This  kind  of  boat  they 
call  Caturi."  (Ramusio,  vol.  i.  p.  312.)  These  piracies  appear  to  have 
declined  in  Hamilton's  time.  He  says  :  "  Porcat  or  Porkah  is  of  small 
extent,  reaching  not  above  four  leagues  along  the  seacoast.  The  rjrince 
is  poor,  having  but  little  trade  in  his  country,  though  it  was  a  free  port 
for  pirates  when  Evory  and  Kid  robbed  along  the  coast  of  India  ;  but 
since  then  the  pirates  infest  the  northern  coasts,  finding  the  richest 
prizes  amongst  the  Mocha  and  Persia  traders."  (Pinkerton's  Voyages, 
vol.  viii.  p.  383.)  Baldseus  calls  the  place  Percatti,  and  iu  Keith  John- 
ston's superb  new  atlas  it  is  written  ParraJcad. 

Query  ?  Is  the  whole  or  any  part  of  the  territory  which  formerly 
constituted  the  small  state  of  Porca  ever  insulated  by  the  "  Backwater 
of  Cochin  V  Horsburgh  does  not  enable  me  to  decide  the  question,  but 
judging  from  the  maps  it  seems  highly  probable. 

1  A  solutiou  of  cow  dung  (gobar)  is  in  general  use  among  the  natives 
throughout  India  for  anointing  the  walls  and  floors  of  their  mud  huts, 
on  account  of  its  binding  and  supposed  purifying  properties.  Buchanan 
says  :  "  It  is  also  much  used  as  fuel,  even  where  wood  is  abundant, 
especially  by  men  of  rank,  as,  from  the  veneration  paid  to  the  cow,  it  is 
considered  as  by  far  the  most  pure  substance  that  can  be  employed. 
Every  herd. of  cattle,  when  at  pasture,  is  attended  by  women,  and  those 
often  of  high  caste,  who  with  their  hands  gather  the  dung,  and  carry  it 
home  in  baskets.  They  then  form  it  into  cakes,  about  half  an  inch 
thick,  and  nine  in  diameter,  and  stick  them  on  the  walls  to  dry.  So 
different,  indeed,  are  Hindu  notions  of  cleanliness  from  ours,  that  the 
walls  of  their  best  houses  are  frequently  bedaubed  with  these  cakes." 
Pinkerton's  Voyages,  vol.  viii.  p.  612. 

15(5  THE    TRAVELS    OF 

now  saw  the  reason  why  they  could  not  dig  foundations,  on 
account  of  the  water,  which  is  close  to  them.1  It  would  be 
impossible  to  estimate  the  jewels  which  the  king  wears,  al- 
though in  my  time  he  was  not  in  very  good  humour,  in  con- 
sequence of  his  being  at  war  with  the  king  of  Portugal,  and 
also  because  he  had  the  French  disease,2  and  had  it  in  the 
throat.  Nevertheless,  he  wore  so  many  jewels  in  his  ears, 
on  his  hands,  on  his  arms,  on  his  feet,  and  on  his  legs,  that 
it  MTas  a  wonder  to  behold.3  His  treasure  consists  of  two 
magazines  of  ingots  of  gold,  and  stamped  golden  money, 
which  many  Brahmins  said  that  a  hundred  mules  could  not 
carry.  And  they  say,  that  this  treasure  has  been  left  by 
ten  or  twelve  previous  kings,  who  have  left  it  for  the  wants 
of  the  republic.  This  king  of  Calicut  also  possesses  a  casket 
three  spans  long  and  one  and  a  half  span  high,  filled  with 
jewels  of  every  description. 

1  See  note  on  p.  136  ante. 

2  Framj  or  Frank  is  the  common  name  among  Arabs  for  the  disease 
referred  to. 

3  The  following  is  a  description  of  the  Zamorin's  dress  when  he  gave 
audience  to  Pedro  Alvarez  Cabral  in  1500  : — "  He  had  only  a  piece  of 
white  cloth,  embroidered  with  gold,  about  his  middle  :  all  the  rest  of  his 
body  being  naked.  On  his  head  was  a  cap  of  cloth  of  gold.  At  his  ears 
hung  jewels,  composed  of  diamonds,  sapphires,  and  pearls,  two  of  which 
were  larger  than  walnuts.  His  arms,  from  the  elbow  to  the  wrist,  and 
his  legs,  from  the  knees  downwards,  were  loaded  with  bracelets,  set  with 
infinite  precious  stones  of  great  value.  His  fingers  and  toes  were  covered 
with  rings.  In  that  of  his  great  toe  was  a  large  ruby  of  surprising 
lustre.  Among  the  rest  was  a  diamond  bigger  than  a  large  bean.  But 
all  this  was  as  nothing  compared  with  the  richness  of  his  girdle,  made 
with  precious  stones  set  in  gold,  which  cast  a  lustre  which  dazzled 
everybody's  eyes.  Near  the  Zamorin  stood  a  chair  of  state  and  his  litter, 
all  of  gold  and  silver,  curiously  made,  and  adorned  with  precious  stones. 
There  were  three  trumpets  of  gold  and  seventeen  of  silver,  whose  mouths 
were  set  with  stones  also  ;  not  to  mention  the  silver  lamps  and  censers 
smoking  with  perfumes,  and  his  golden  spitting-basin."  Greene's  Col- 
lection, vol.  i.  p.  43. 



Many  pepper  trees  are  found  in  the  territory  of  Calicut : 
there  are  also  some  within  the  city,  but  not  in  large  quanti- 
ties. Its  stem  is  like  that  of  a  vine,  that  is  to  say,  it  is 
planted  near  to  some  other  tree,  because,  like  the  vine,  it 
cannot  stand  erect.  This  tree  grows  like  the  ivy,  which 
embraces  and  climbs  as  high  as  the  wood  or  tree  which  it 
can  grasp.  The  said  plant  throws  out  a  great  number  of 
branches,  which  branches  are  from  two  to  three  pahni  long. 
The  leaves  of  these  branches  resemble  those  of  the  sour 
orange,  but  are  more  dry,  and  on  the  underneath  part  they 
are  full  of  minute  veins.  From  each  of  these  branches  there 
grow  five,  six,  and  eight  clusters,  a  little  longer  than  a  man's 
finger,  and  they  are  like  small  raisins,  but  more  regularly 
arranged,  and  are  as  green  as  unripe  grapes.  They  gather 
them  in  this  green  state  in  the  month  of  October  and  even 
in  November,  and  then  they  lay  them  in  the  sun  on  certain 
mats,  and  leave  them  in  the  sun  for  three  or  four  days, 
when  they  become  as  black  as  they  are  seen  amongst  us 
without  doing  anything  else  to  them.  And  you  must  know 
that  these  people  neither  prune  nor  hoe  this  tree  which  pro- 
duces the  pepper.1 

1  "  Pepper  is  proverbially  styled  the  money  of  Malabar... The  trailing 
plant  which  produces  pepper  is  propagated  by  planting  a  cutting  at  the 
root  of  the  jak,  the  mango,  or  other  trees  having  rough  bark,  up  which 
the  vine  climbs.  After  it  has  been  planted  it  requires  no  great  trouble 
or  attentiou,  the  cultivator  having  little  more  to  do  than  to  collect  the 
produce  in  the  proper  season.  When  the  fruit  is  intended  for  black 
pepper,  it  is  not  allowed  to  ripen,  but  is  collected  green,  and  becomes 
black  on  drying.  That  which  is  intended  for  white  pepper  is  left  to 
ripen  thoroughly,  in  which  state  the  berries  are  covered  with  a  red  pulp, 
which  beiug  washed  off,  leaves  the  peppercorn  white,  and  requiring 
merely  to  be  dried  to  be  fit  for  the  market."  (Thornton's  Gazetteer.) 
Fitch  says  :  "  The  shrub  is  like  unto  our  ivy  tree,  and  if  it  did  not  run 
about  some  tree  or  pole,  it  would  fall  down  and  rot.     When  first  they 

158  ill  I :    TRAVELS    OF 

In  this  place  ginger  also  grows,  which  is  a  root,  and  of 
these  same  roots  some  are  found  of  four,  eight,  and  twelve 
ounces  each.  When  they  dig  it,  the  stem  of  the  said  root  is 
about  three  or  four  spans  long,  and  is  formed  like  some  reeds 
[cannuze].  And  when  they  gather  the  said  ginger,  in  that 
same  place  they  take  an  eye  of  the  said  root,  which  is  like 
an  eye  of  the  cane,  and  plant  it  in  the  hole  whence  they  have 
dug  that  root,  and  cover  it  up  with  the  same  earth.  At  the 
end  of  a  year  they  return  to  gather  it,  and  plant  it  in  the 
aforesaid  manner.1  This  root  grows  in  red  soil,  and  on 
the  mountain,  and  in  the  plain,  as  the  mirabolans  grow, 
every  kind  of  which  is  found  here.2  Their  stem  is  like  that 
of  a  middle-sized  pear  tree,  and  they  bear  like  the  pepper 

gather  it,  it  is  green  ;  and  then  they  lay  it  in  the  sun  and  it  becometh 
black."  (Pinkerton's  Voyages,  vol.  ix.  p.  425.)  Barbosa  gives  a  de- 
tailed account  of  the  plant,  and  also  of  the  pepper  trade  shortly  after 
the  arrival  of  the  Portuguese  in  India.     Ramusio,  vol.  i.  p.  322. 

1  Ilieronimo  di  Santo  Stefano,  who  visited  Calicut  some  years  prior  to 
Varthenia,  describes  the  pepper-vine  and  ginger-shrub  in  similar  terms. 
Of  the  latter,  he  says  :  "  For  the  propagation  of  ginger,  they  plant  the 
piece  of  a  small  fresh  root,  about  the  size  of  a  small  nut,  which  at  the 
end  of  a  month  grows  large.  The  leaf  resembles  that  of  a  wild  lilly." 
{India  in  the  Fifteenth  Century,  iv.  p.  4,  5.)  Fitch  likens  the  plant  to 
"  our  garlic,  and  the  root  is  the  ginger."  Dr.  Buchanan  states  that  the 
cuttings  of  ginger  are  planted  between  the  months  of  April  and  May, 
and  that  between  December  and  January  the  roots  are  fit  for  pulling. 
Those  intended  for  replanting  are  mixed  with  a  little  mud,  and  immedi- 
ately buried  in  a  pit.  See  A  Journey  from  Madras  through  Mysore,  &c, 
vol.  ii.  p.  469. 

-  "  Of  Terminalia,  the  genus  to  which  the  Myrobalans  belong,  Wright 
and  Arnott,  in  their  Prodromus  Flora  Peninsulce  Indue  Orientalis, 
vol.  i,  p.  312  et  seq.,  enumerate  eleven  species  ;  but  probably  only  five  of 
them  have  edible  fruits,  viz.  : 

1.  Terminalia  Angustifolia,  Jacq. 

2.  „  Catappe,  L. 

3.  „  Bellerica,  Roxb. 

4.  „  Chebula,  Roxb. 

5.  „  Travancorensis,  W.  &  A."    J.  J.  Bennett. 

l.UDOVICO    1)1    VARTHEMA.  159 


I  found  in  Calicut  a  kind  of  fruit  which  is  called  Ciccara. 
Its  stem  is  like  that  of  a  large  pear  tree.  The  fruit  is  two 
or  two  and  a  half  palmi  long,  and  is  as  thick  as  a  man's  thigh. 
This  fruit  grows  on  the  trunk  of  the  tree,  that  is  to  say, 
under  the  boughs,  and  partly  on  the  middle  of  the  stem. 
The  colour  of  the  said  fruit  is  green,  and  it  is  formed  like 
the  pine,  but  the  work  is  more  minute.  When  it  begins  to 
ripen,  the  skin  becomes  black  and  appears  rotten.  This 
fruit  is  gathered  in  the  month  of  December,  and  when  it  is 
eaten  it  seems  as  though  you  were  eating  musk  melons, 
and  it  appears  to  resemble  a  very  ripe  Persian  quince.  It 
appears  also,  as  though  you  were  eating  a  preparation  of 
honey,  and  it  also  has  the  taste  of  a  sweet  orange.  "Within 
the  said  fruit  there  are  some  pellicles  like  the  pomegranate. 
And  within  the  said  pellicles  there  is  another  fruit  which,  if 
placed  on  the  embers  of  the  fire  and  then  eaten,  you  would 
say  that  they  were  most  excellent  chestnuts.  So  that  this  ap- 
pears to  me  to  be  the  best  and  the  most  excellent  fruit  I  ever 
ate.1   Another  fruit  is  also  found  here,  which  is  called  Amha, 

1  The  fruit  here  described  is  obviously  the  Jack  {Artocarpus  integri- 
folia),  the  large  seeds  of  which,  when  roasted,  are  frequently  eaten. 
They  were  a  favourite  dish  with  my  late  lamented  friend  Sir  James 
Outram,  who  used  to  say  they  were  equal  to  chestnuts.  Though  the 
taste  of  the  pulp  is  sweet,  the  smell  is  very  disagreeable  to  Europeans. 
Varthema,  who  seems  to  affix  the  odour  to  the  skin,  is  the  only  one  of 
the  old  travellers  who  appears  to  have  noticed  this  peculiarity.  I  cannot 
discover  the  origin  of  the  name  Ciccara  which  he  gives  to  the  fruit, 
unless  it  be  a  corruption  of  the  Malayalim  Tsjaka  or  Taca.  Ibn 
Batuta  mentions  two  species  of  the  Jack,  Esh-Shaki  and  El-Barki,  and, 
in  describing  the  fruit,  say3  :  "  When  it  grows  yellow  in  the  autumn, 
they  gather  and  divide  it  :  and  in  the  inside  of  each  is  from  one  to  two 
hundred  seeds.  Its  seed  resembles  that  of  a  cucumber,  and  has  a  stone 
something  like  a  large  bean.  When  the  stone  is  roasted,  it  tastes  like  a 
dried  bean."  (Lee's  Translation,  p.  105.)  The  distinction  thus  drawn 
between  the  seed  and  the  stones  of  the  Jack  seems  to  justify  Varthema 

160  THE    TRAVELS    OF 

the  stem  of  which  is  called  Manga.  This  tree  is  like  a  pear 
tree,  and  bears  like  the  pear.  This  Amba  is  made  like  one  of 
our  walnuts  in  the  month  of  August,  and  has  that  form  ;  and 
when  it  is  ripe  it  is  yellow  and  shining.  ■  This  fruit  has  a 
stone  within  like  a  dry  almond,  and  is  much  better  than  the 
Damascus  plum.  A  preserve  is  made  of  this  fruit,  such  as 
we  make  of  olives,  but  they  are  much  superior.1    Another 

in  calling  the  latter  "  another  fruit  ;"  and  I  am  gratified  to  find  that 
this  inference  is  in  a  measure  confirmed  by  the  following  valuable 
remarks  communicated  to  me  by  John  J.  Bennett,  Esq.,  of  the  British 
Museum,  to  whose  kindness  I  am  also  indebted  for  several  subsequent 
notes  on  the  different  fruits  mentioned  in  this  chapter  : — 

"  The  fruit  of  the  Jack  is  compound,  and  made  up  of  a  number  of 
single-seeded  fruits  cohering  together.  It  is  singular  that  this  fact, 
which  is  not  very  obvious  at  first  sight,  should  have  been  partially 
noticed  by  these  old  writers.  Roxburgh's  description  of  it  is  as  follows  : 
'  Fruit  compound,  oblong,  murexed  (muricate),  from  twelve  to  twenty 
inches  long,  from  six  to  twelve  in  diameter,  weighing  from  ten  to  sixty 
pounds.  Seeds  uniform,  one  in  each  germ,  were  all  to  come  to  maturity, 
which  can  never  happen.  They  are  about  the  size  of  a  nutmeg,  enve- 
loped in  a  thin,  smooth,  leathery  sheath,  lodged  within  the  fleshy  edible 
part  of  the  fruit,  which  formed  the  exterior  coverings  of  the  germ, 
already  noticed... The  fruit  of  this  tree  is  so  universally  known  that  it  is 
unnecessary  for  me  to  say  anything  respecting  its  excellence,  as  well  as 
that  the  seeds,  when  roasted,  are  not  inferior  to  the  best  chestnuts.  In 
Ceylon,  where  the  tree  grows  most  plentifully,  and  where  the  fruit 
attains  to  its  greatest  size,  the  inhabitants  make  them  a  very  consider- 
able article  of  their  diet.'    Flora  Indica,  vol.  iii.  p.  532." 

1  Though  he  misapplies  their  import,  it  is  remarkable  that  Varthema 
uses  these  two  connexion  with  this  fruit.  Am,  Amb,  Amba  or 
Anba,  appears  to  be  derived  from  the  Sanscrit  Amrd  ;  but,  as  written  by 
Ibn  Batuta,  ''Anba,  it  resembles  so  closely  the  collective  form  ^Atiab, 
and  the  singular  'Anbah,  the  Arabic  for  grape,  that  I  scarcely  wonder  at 
Professor  Lee  translating  it  by  that  word,  more  especially  as  there  is  no 
original  name  for  the  Mango  in  the  Arabic  language.  The  fruit  is  not 
indigenous  to  any  part  of  Arabia,  though  a  very  inferior  quality  is  now 
to  be  found  in  the  southern  parts  of  Yemen,  and  in  the  province  of 
'Amman  (Oman).  I  am  able  to  fix  the  date  of  its  introduction  into  the 
latter  country  (but,  unfortunately,  not  the  place  from  whence  it  was 
imported,  though  in  all  probability  it  was  from  India),  by  the  following 
extract  from  a  manuscript  history  of  'Amman  in  my  possession,  entitled 
El-F<.dh  el-Mubin.     The  author,  writing  of  El-Fellah   ibn  el-Muhsin, 


fruit  is  found  here  resembling  a  melon,  and  it  has  similar 
divisions,  and  when  it  is  cut,  three  or  four  grains,  which  look 
like  grapes  or  sour  cherries,  are  found  inside.  The  tree 
which  bears  this  fruit  is  of  the  height  of  a  quince  tree,  and 
forms  its  leaves  in  the  same  manner.  This  fruit  is  called 
Corcopal  ;  it  is  extremely  good  for  eating,  and  excellent  as  a 
medicine.1  I  also  found  there  another  fruit,  which  is  exactly 
like  the  medlar,  but  it  is  white  like  an  apple.  I  do  not  re- 
member by  what  name  it  was  called.2  Again,  I  saw  another 
kind  of  fruit  which  resembled  a  pumpkin  in  colour,  is  two 
spans  in  length,  and  has  more  than  three  fingers  of  pulp, 
and  is  much  better  than  a  gourd  (zuccha)  for  confections,  and 
it  is  a  very  curious  thing,  and  it  is  called  Comolanga,  and 
grows  on  the  ground  like  melons.3    This  country  also  pro- 

who  ruled  over  a  portion  of  that  country  towards  the  end  of  the  fif- 
teenth century,  says  :  "  It  was  he  who  planted  the  ''Amba  at  Makniyat, 
and  it  increased  in  'Amman  where  before  it  was  unknown.  It  had  been 
sent  to  him  as  a  rarity,  and  described  as  an  excellent  fruit,  so  he  caused 
a  great  many  of  those  trees  to  be  planted." 

The  word  Mango,  according  to  Crawfurd,  is  a  corruption  of  Mangga 
which,  though  used  by  Malays,  he  says  was  picked  up  by  our  traders  at 
Bantam,  von  the^coast  of  Sumatra.  {Hist,  of  the  Indian  Archipelago, 
vol.  i.  p.  425.)  The  seafaring  Arabs  of  Malabar  probably  borrowed  it 
from  the  same  source. 

1  The  names  given  by  Varthema  to  the  fruits  mentioned  in  this 
chapter  do  not  appear  to  be  in  use  at  the  present  day,  and  Malayalim 
scholars  fail  to  recognize  them  as  belonging  to  that  language.  With 
regard  to  the  Corcopal,  Mr.  Bennett  remarks  :  "  I  can  hardly  give  a 
guess.  It  might  be  the  Papau,  but  differs  in  the  character  of  the  leaves, 
and  in  the  number  of  seeds.     Or,  it  might  be  a  species  of  Diospyros.'1'' 

2  "  The  medlar-like  fruit  here  described  may  be  either  the  Rose-apple 
or  the  Guava,  of  both  of  which  there  are  white-fruited  varieties.  The 
large  open  calyx  in  either  may  have  suggested  the  comparison  to  a 
medlar."     Bennett. 

3  "  Probably  nearly  allied  to,  if  not  identical  with,  the  Water  melon." 
With  regard  to  the  Corcopal  and  Comolanga,  Mr.  Bennett  observes  : 
"  I  find  that  Julius  Caesar  Scaliger  has  been  poaching  in  Varthema, 
whom  he  translates  somewhat  differently,  not  naming  the  source  of  his 
information.     The  following  are  his  chapters  with  their  headings  :  — 

"  '  Melo  Corcopali  et  Mespilum.     Corcopal  Indite  provincia  est :  in  qua 

162  THE    TRAVELS    OF 

duces  another  very  singulai*  fruit,  which  fruit  is  called 
Malapolanda.  The  tree  which  bears  this  fruit  is  as  high  as 
a  man  or  a  little  more,  and  it  produces  four  or  five  leaves 
which  are  branches  and  leaves.  Each  of  these  covers  a  man 
against  rain  and  sun.  In  the  middle  of  this  it  throws  out  a 
certain  branch  which  "produces  flowers  in  the  same  manner 
as  the  stalk  of  a  bean,  and  afterwards  it  produces  some  fruits 
which  are  half  a  palmo  and  apalmo  in  length,  and  they  are  as 
thick  as  the  staff  of  a  spear.  And  when  they  wish  to  gather 
the  said  fruit  they  do  not  wait  until  it  is  ripe,  because  it 
ripens  in  the  house.  One  branch  will  produce  two  hundred 
or  thereabouts  of  these  fruits,  and  they  all  touch  one  against 
the  other.  Of  these  fruits  there  are  found  three  sorts.  The 
first  sort  is  called  Cianchapalon  ;  these  are  very  restorative 
things  to  eat.  Their  colour  is  somewhat  yellow,  and  the 
bark  is  very  thin.  The  second  sort  is  called  Cadelapalon, 
and  they  are  much  superior  to  the  others.  The  third  sort  are 
bitter.  The  two  kinds  above  mentioned  are  good  like  our 
figs,  but  superior.  The  tree  of  this  fruit  produces  once  and 
then  no  more.  The  said  tree  always  has  at  its  stem  fifty  or 
sixty  shoots  (figlioli),  and  the  owners  remove  these  shoots  by 
the  hand  and  transplant  them,  and  at  the  end  of  a  year  they 
produce  their  fruit.  And  if  the  said  branches  are  too  green 
when  they  cut  them,  they  put  a  little  lime  upon  the  said 
fruits  to  make  them  ripen  quickly.     You  must  know  that  a- 

cydonii  magnitudine  et  foliis  arbor  prregrandem  gerit  fructum,  melonis 
fi<nira,  eodernque  sulcatum  modo.  Intra  quern  terna  quaternave  grana, 
acinorurn  uvse  facie,  acore  cerasi.  Ubi  est  adversus  tuarn  subtilitatern 
naturse  simplicitas.  Non  enim  granorum  Humerus,  uti  tu  volebas  in 
Punicis,  certus  est  :  sicuti  neque  in  Ciccara.  Melonem  banc  et  edendo 
esse,  et  ad  medicinas  utilem.  Ibi  Mespilum  colore  albo,  Malo  magni- 

"  '  Comolanga.  In  eadem  Corcopal  Comolanga  fructus  esitatur,  ses- 
quipede  major,  curcubitte  colore,  llumi  jacet,  ut  melo.  Pulpa;  pluri- 
mum.  Condimenta  ex  ea,  vol  cucurbitinis,  quas  Carabassades  Hispani 
vocaut,  vel  citriis  meliora,  attpie  sapidiora.'  Exekcitatio  clxxxi.  cap. 
13,  15."     Idem. 


very  large  quantity  of  such  fruits  is  found  at  all  times  of  the 
year,  and  twenty  are  given  for  a  quattrino.1  In  like  manner, 
roses  and  most  singular  flowers  are  found  here  on  all  the 
days  of  the  year. 


I  will  describe  another  tree  to  you,  the  best  in  all  the 
world,  which  is  called  Tenga,~  and  is  formed  like  the  trunk 

1  "  This  is  certainly  the  Plantain,  in  its  several  varieties,  and  very 
well  described.  With  respect  to  its  dying  off  after  producing  its  fruit, 
I  need  only  quote  what  Roxburgh  says  :  '  They  blossom  at  all  seasons, 
though  generally  during  the  rains,  and  ripen  their  seed  in  five  or  six 
months  afterwards.  The  plant  then  perishes  down  to  the  root,  which 
long  before  this  time  has  produced  other  shoots  :  these  continue  to  grow 
up,  blossom,  etc.,  in  succession  for  several  years.  Flora  Intlica,  i.  p. 
663."     Idem. 

Malapolanda  may  be  a  corruption  of  Videi  pullum,  which,  according 
to  Ainsiie,  is  the  Tamil  name  for  Plantain.  See  his  Materia  Indica, 
vol.  i.  sub  voce  Plantain. 

2  This  is,  obviously,  the  Cocoa-nut  tree,  the  Malayalim  name  of  which, 
according  to  Ainsiie,  is  Tdnghd.  I  am  aware  of  none  among  the  earlier 
travellers  who  has  so  thoroughly  described  this  palm,  and  the  several 
uses  to  which  it  is  applied,  as  Varthema ;  and  the  accuracy  of  his  details 
may  be  tested  by  the  following  quotation  from  Seeman$v — "  The  cocoa- 
nut  tree  attains  a  height  of  from  sixty  to  one  hundred  feet,  and  a 
diameter  of  one  or  two  feet.. ..It  flourishes  best  in  a  sandy  soil. ..The 
wood  is  devoted  to  various  purposes.  The  leaves  are  from  eighteen  to 
twenty  feet  long  :  the  Cingalese  split  them  in  halves,  and  plait  the  seg- 
ments so  as  to  form  baskets.  Under  the  denomination  of  cadjans,  they 
form  the  usual  covering  of  their  huts,  as  well  as  of  the  European 
bungalows.  The  midribs  of  the  leaves,  when  tied  together,  form  brooms 
for  the  decks  of  ships... There  is  one  portion  of  the  tree  which  attracts 
much  the  attention  of  the  observer, — it  is  a  kind  of  net-work  at  the  base 
of  the  petiole.  It  is  stripped  off  in  large  pieces,  and  used  in  Ceylon  as 
strainers,  particularly  for  the  toddy.  A  tree  produces  several  bunches 
of  nuts,  and  from  twelve  to  twenty  large  nuts,  besides  several  small  un- 
productive ones,  may  be  seen  on  each  bunch.  In  good  situations  the 
fruit  is  gathered  four  or  five  times  in  the  course  of  the  year.     The  latter 

M  2 

104  THE    TRAVELS    OF 

of  a  date  tree.  Ten  useful  things  are  derived  from  this 
tree.  The  first  utility  is  wood  to  burn;  nuts  to  eat;  ropes 
for  maritime  navigation  ;  thin  stuffs  which,  when  they  are 
dyed,  appear  to  be  made  of  silk;  charcoal' in  the  greatest 
perfection;  wine;  water;  oil;  and  sugar:  and  with  its  leaves 
which  fall,  that  is,  when  a  branch  falls,  they  cover  the 
houses.  And  these  ward  off  water  for  half  a  year.  Were  I  to 
declare  to  you  in  what  manner  it  accomplishes  so  many 
things  you  would  not  believe  it,  neither  could  you  under- 
stand it.  The  said  tree  produces  the  above-named  nuts  in 
the  same  manner  as  the  branch  of  a  date  tree ;  and  each  tree 

is  much  used  as  an  article  of  food,  both  meat  and  drink,  when  green  or 
young :  in  that  state  it  yields  an  abundance  of  a  delicious  cooling  bever- 
age. The  water,  beautifully  clear,  has  a  sweetness,  with  a  slight  degree 
of  astringency,  which  renders  it  agreeable... From  the  flower  spathes, 
before  the  flowers  are  expanded,  toddy  or  palm-wine  is  made.  To  pro- 
cure the  toddy,  the  spathe  is  tied  with  strips  of  the  young  leaves  to 
prevent  its  expansion.  It  is  cut  a  little  transversely  from  the  top,  and 
beaten  either  with  the  handle  of  the  toddy-knife,  or  a  small  piece  of 
ebony  or  iron-wood  :  this  process  having  been  continued  morning  and 
evening,  (at  dawn  of  day,  and  just  as  the  sun  declines  below  the  horizon,) 
for  five  or  six  successive  days,  the  under  part  of  the  spathe  is  taken  off, 
so  as  to  permit  of  its  being  gradually  bent,  when  the  toddy-drawers,  for 
the  purpose  of  keeping  it  in  that  position,  attach  it  to  some  neighbour- 
in"-  leaf-stalk.  After  a  further  period  of  five  days,  an  earthen  chatty  or 
calabash  is  hung  to  the  spathe,  so  as  to  receive  the  toddy  that  exudes, 
which  is  collected  every  morning  and  evening,  and  the  spathe  cut  a  little 
every  day  :  the  quantity  collected  varies  much. 

"  Fermentation  takes  place  in  a  few  hours  after  the  toddy  has  been 
collected,  when  it  is  used  by  the  bakers  as  yeast. ..Arrack  is  distilled 
from  toddy,  which  also  yields  abundance  of  jaggery  or  sugar. ..The  rind 
or  husk  of  the  cocoa-nut  is  very  fibrous,  and  when  ripe  is  the  Roya  or 
Coir  of  commerce... Another  valuable  production  of  the  nut  is  the  oil... 
The  Malabar  method  of  extracting  it  is  by  dividing  the  kernels  into  two 
equal  parts,  which  are  ranged  on  shelves  made  of  the  laths  of  the  Betel- 
nut  palm,  or  split  bamboo,  spaces  being  left  between  each  lath  of  half 
an  inch  wide  :  under  them  a  charcoal  fire  is  then  made,  and  kept  up  for 
two  or  three  days,  in  order  to  dry  them.  After  this  process  they  are 
exposed  to  the  sun  on  mats,  and  when  thoroughly  dried  (then  called 
Koppera)  are  placed  in  an  oil-press  or  siccoor."  Popular  History  of  the 
Palms  and  thevr  Allies,  pp.  14(M7.">. 


will  produce  from  one  hundred  to  two  hundred  of  these  nuts, 
the  outer  part  of  which  is  taken  off  and  used  as  firewood. 
And  then,  next  to  the  second  bark,  there  is  taken  off  a 
certain  substance  like  cotton  or  linen  flax,  and  this  is  given 
to  workmen  to  beat,  and  from  the  flower,  stuffs  which 
appear  like  silken  stuffs  are  made.  And  the  coarse  part 
they  spin,  and  make  of  it  small  cords,  and  of  the  small  they 
make  large  cords,  and  these  they  use  for  the  sea.  Of  the 
other  bark  of  the  said  nut  excellent  charcoal  is  made.  After 
the  second  bark  the  nut  is  good  to  eat.  The  size  of  the  said 
fruit  is  [at  first]  that  of  the  little  finger  of  the  hand.  When 
the  said  nut  begins  to  grow,  water  begins  to  be  produced 
within  ;  and  when  the  nut  has  arrived  at  perfection,  it  is  full 
of  water,  so  that  there  are  some  nuts  which  will  contain  four 
and  five  goblets  of  water,  which  water  is  a  most  excellent 
thing  to  drink,  and  is  also  like  rose-water,  and  extremely 
sweet.  Most  excellent  oil  is  made  from  the  said  nut,  and 
thus  you  have  eight  utilities  from  it.  Another  branch  of 
the  said  tree  they  do  not  allow  to  produce  nuts,  but  they  cut 
it  in  the  middle  and  give  it  a  certain  inclination  ;  and  in  the 
morning  and  evening  they  make  an  opening  with  a  knife, 
and  then  they  apply  a  certain  fluid  and  that  fluid  draws  out 
a  certain  juice.  And  these  men  set  a  pot  underneath  and 
collect  that  juice,  of  which  one  tree  will  produce  as  much  as 
half  a  jug  between  the  day  and  the  night.  This  they 
place  over  the  fire  and  boil  it  one,  two,  and  three  times, 
so  that  it  appears  like  brandy,  and  will  affect  a  man's 
head  by  merely  smelling  it,  to  say  nothing  of  drinking  it. 
This  is  the  wine  which  is  drunk  in  these  countries.  From 
another  branch  of  the  said  tree  they  produce  in  a  similar 
manner  this  juice,  and  convert  it  into  sugar  by  means  of 
fire ;  but  it  is  not  very  good.  The  said  tree  always  has  fruit 
either  green  or  dry,  and  it  produces  fruit  in  five  years. 
These  trees  are  found  over  two  hundred  miles  of  country, 
and  all  have  owners.     As  to  the  goodness  of  this  tree,  when 

166  THE    TRAVELS    OF 

the  kings  are  at  enmity  one  with  another,  and  kill  each 
other's  children,  they  nevertheless  sometimes  make  peace. 
But  if  one  king  cut  down  any  of  these  trees  belonging  to 
another  king,  peace  will  never  be  granted  to  all  eternity.1 
You  must  know  that  the  said  tree  lives  for  twenty  or  five 
and  twenty  years,  and  grows  in  sandy  places.  And  when 
these  nuts  are  planted  to  produce  these  trees,  and  until  they 
begin  to  germinate,  or  that  the  tree  begins  to  grow  from 
them,  it  is  necessary  that  the  men  who  plant  them  should 
go  every  evening  to  uncover  them,  in  order  that  the  cool 
night  air  may  blow  over  them  ;  and  early  in  the  morning 
they  return  to  cover  them  up,  in  order  that  the  sun  may  not 
find  them  thus  uncovered.  And  in  this  manner  does  this 
tree  generate  and  grow.  In  this  country  of  Calicut,  there 
is  found  a  great  quantity  of  zerzalino,2  from  which  they  make 
very  excellent  oil. 


The  men  of  Calicut,  when  they  wish  to  sow  rice,  observe 
this  practice.  First,  they  plough  the  land  with  oxen  as  we 
do,  and  when  they  sow  the  rice  in  the  field  they  have  all 
the  instruments  of  the  city  continually  sounding  and  making 
merry.     They  also  have   ten   or  twelve   men   clothed  like 

1  The  Israelites  were  expressly  forbidden  to  cut  down  food-bearing 
trees  even  in  an  enemy's  country.  (Deut.  xx.  19.)  To  injure  trees, 
according  to  Manu,  was  an  offence  proportioned  to  the  value  of  the  tree, 
(viii.  285.)  Quintus  Curtius  was  correct  when  he  said  of  the  ancient 
Hindus  that  they  deified  certain  trees,  which  it  was  a  capital  crime  to 
destroy.  (Lib.  viii.  cap.  9.)  "  The  ficus  religiosa,  and  other  trees,  are 
never  injured  by  the  Hindus.  Ward  mentions  a  tree  which  was  so  much 
reverenced  that  not  even  its  withered  branches  were  permitted  to  be 
cut."     Bombay  Quarterly  Magazine,  October  1850. 

2  Sesame,  see  note  2,  p.  86  ante. 


devils,  and  these  unite  in  making  great  rejoicing  with  the 
players  on  the  instruments,  in  order  that  the  devil  may  make 
that  rice  very  productive. 


When  a  merchant,  that  is,  a  Pagan,  is  sick  and  in  great 

danger,  the  abovementioned  instruments  and  the  aforesaid 

men  dressed  like  devils  go  to  visit  the  sick  man  ;  and  they  go 

at  two  or  three  o'clock  in  the  morning ;  and  the  said  men  so 

dressed  carry  fire  in  their  mouths  ;  and  in  each  of  their  hands 

and  on  their  feet  they  wear  two  crutches  of  wood,  which  are 

one  pace  (passo)  high,  and  in  this  manner  they  go  shouting 

and  sounding  the  instruments,  so  that  truly  if  the  person  were 

not  ill,  he  would  fall  to  the  ground  from  terror  at  seeing  these 

ugly  beasts.  And  these  are  the  physicians  who  go  to  see  and 

to  visit  the  sick  man.     And  although  they   should  fill  the 

stomach  full  up  to  the  mouth,  they  pound  three  roots  of 

ginger  and  make  a  cup  of  juice,  and  this  they  drink,  and  in 

three  days  they  no  longer  have  any  illness,  so  that  they  live 

exactly  like  beasts.1 

1  Hindus  generally  attribute  all  disease  to  malignant  spiritual  agency, 
which  must  be  either  propitiated  or  exorcised  ;  and  although  this  notion 
does  not  wholly  prevent  their  seeking  relief  from  dietetics  and  physic, 
their  chief  reliance,  nevertheless,  is  placed  on  medical  thaumaturgy. 
The  practitioners  are  men  of  low  caste,  who  pretend  to  effect  great  cures 
by  amulets,  philtres,  and  various  incantations,  not  unfrequently  asso- 
ciated with  a  noisy  display  similar  to  that  above  described  by  Varthema. 
Buchanan  mentions  a  tribe  of  Telinga  origin,  called  the  Pacanet  Joghis, 
which  is  scattered  over  the  peninsula,  whose  business  consists  in  collect- 
ing and  exhibiting  the  plants  used  in  medicine.  He  says  :  "  Their  vir- 
tuous men,  after  death,  are  supposed  to  become  a  kind  of  gods,  and 
frequently  to  inspire  the  living,  which  makes  them  speak  incoherently, 
and  enables  them  to  foretel  the  event  of  diseases  ;"  and  then  adds  : 
"  Medicine  in  this  country  has,  indeed,  fallen  into  the  hands  of  charla- 
tans equally  impudent  and  ignorant."     (Pinkerton's  Voyages,  vol.  viii. 

168  THE    TRAVELS    OF 


The  monc)r-changcrs  and  bankers  of  Calicut  have  some 
weights,  that  is,  balances,  which  are  so  small  that  the  box 
in  which  they  stand  and  the  weights  together  do  not  weigh 
half  an  ounce  ;  and  they  are  so  true  that  they  will  turn  by 
a  hair  of  the  head.  And  when  they  wish  to  test  any  piece 
of  gold,  they  have  carats  of  gold  as  we  have  ;  and  they  have 
the  touchstone  like  us.  And  they  test  after  our  manner. 
When  the  touchstone  is  full  of  gold,  they  have  a  ball,  of  a 
certain  composition  which  resembles  wax,  and  with  this  ball, 
when  they  wish  to  see  if  the  gold  be  good  or  poor,  they 
press  on  the  touchstone  and  take  away  some  gold  from  the 
said  touchstone,  and  then  they  see  in  the  ball  the  goodness 
of  the  gold,  and  they  say  :  "  Idu  mannu,  Idu  aga,"  that  is, 
"  this  is  good,  and  this  is  poor."  And  when  that  ball  is 
full  of  gold  they  melt  it,  and  take  out  all  the  gold  which 
they  have  tested  by  the  touchstone.  The  said  money-changers 
are  extremely  acute  in  their  business.  The  merchants  have 
this  custom  when  they  wish  to  sell  or  to  purchase  their  mer- 
chandise, that  is,  wholesale: — They  always  sell  by  the  hands  of 
the  Cor  tor  or  of  the  Leila,1  that  is,  of  the  broker.  And  when 
the  purchaser  and  the  seller  wish  to  make  an  agreement, 
they  all  stand  in  a  circle,  and  the  Cortor  takes  a  cloth  and 
holds  it  there  openly  with  one  hand,  and  with  the  other 
hand  he  takes  the  right  hand  of  the  seller,  that  is,  the  two 
fingers  next  to  the  thumb,  and  then  he  covers  with  the  said 
cloth  his  hand  and  that  of  the  seller,  and  touching  each 
other  with  these  two  fingers,  they  count  from  one  ducat  up 

p.  669.)  For  some  valuable  remarks  on  Medical  Thauuiaturgy  in  India, 
see  the  Bombay  Quarterly  Magazine  for  October  1850,  and  Fobbes's 
Chapter  on  Bhoots,  Ras  Mala,  vol.  ii.  pp.  379-400. 

1  Cortor  is  probably  a  contraction  of  the  Portuguese  Mercador.    Leila 
is  doubtless  a  corruption  of  the  Arabic  Dallal,  a  go-between,  a  broker. 


to  one  hundred  thousand  secretly,  without  saying  "  I  will 
have  so  much"  or  "so  much."  But  in  merely  touching  the 
joints  of  the  fingers  they  understand  the  price  and  say  : 
"  Yes"  or  "  No."  And  the  Cortor  answers  "  No"  or  "  Yes." 
And  when  the  Cortor  has  understood,  the  will  of  the  seller, 
he  goes  to  the  buyer  with  the  said  cloth,  and  takes  his  hand 
in  the  manner  above  mentioned,  and  by  the  said  touching 
he  tells  him  he  wants  so  much.  The  buyer  takes  the  finger 
of  the  Cortor,  and  by  the  said  touches  says  to  him  :  "  I  will 
give  him  so  much."1    And  in  this  manner  they  fix  the  price. 

1  This  method  of  transacting  business  prevails  among  the  Arabs  in 
the  Red  Sea  and  along  the  north-eastern  coast  of  Arabia.  Dr.  Beke  also 
noticed  it  at  the  market  of  Baso  in  Abyssinia,  and  describes  it  thus  : — 
"  The  principals  or  their  brokers,  seated  on  the  ground,  take  each  other's 
hand, — the  hands  being  covered  with  their  clothes  so  that  they  may  not 
be  seen, — and  then  by  a  peculiar  grasping  or  pressing  of  the  fingers 
they  make  known  the  price  which  they  are  respectively  willing  to  give 
or  accept.  A  few  examples  will  best  explain  this  :  Having  first  settled 
between  themselves  whether  the  price  in  question  is  to  be  in  gold 
(ounces,)  in  silver  (dollars,)  or  in  salt  (amoles,)  they  then,  if  the  price  is 
in  amoles,  for  fifty  grasp  the  whole  five  fingers ;  for  forty,  only  four. 
For  sixty  they  first  grasp  the  whole  five,  and  then  say  '  this,'  and  then, 
after  a  momentary  pause,  add  'and  this,'  accompanying  the  latter  words 
with  the  pressure  of  one  finger  only.  One  hundred  dmoles  would  be  five 
fingers  and  then  again  five,  or  simply  a  single  finger  ;  110,  one  finger 
alone,  say  'this' — '  and  this,'  and  pressing  it  twice  ;  120  would,  of  course, 
be  first  one  finger  and  then  two.  If  the  price  is  settled  in  silver  or  gold, 
then  it  will  be  two,  three,  or  four  fingers,  according  to  their  value  ;  and 
subdivisions  of  the  wokiet  [ounces]  are  made  known  by  pressing  the  nail 
of  the  forefinger  on  the  forefinger  of  the  other  party,  the  end  joint  being 
^,  the  second  joint  or  middle  of  the  finger  J,  and  the  middle  of  the  first 
phalanx  f .  As  it  mostly  happens  that  several  persons  are  interested, — 
or,  if  not  so,  at  all  events  take  part  in  the  transaction  as  friends  or 
advisers, — its  progress  is  communicated  to  them  by  the  principals 
through  their  other  hands,  which  are  in  like  manner  hidden  under  their 
clothes  ;  and  thus  the  price  can  be  passed  on  in  succession  to  an  in- 
definite number  of  individuals,  without  its  being  once  openly  named. 
When  any  of  these  think  the  amount  offered  sufficient,  they  cry  out 
'  sell,  sell ;'  and  should  the  conclusion  of  the  bargain  be  long  delayed, 
this  cry  is  repeated,  making  a  curious  impression  on  a  bystander,  who 
may  not  happen  to  be  aware  what  is  going  on."  Letters  on  the  Com- 
merce and  Politics  of  Abyssinia,  p.  19. 

170  THE    TRAVELS    OF 

If  the  merchandise  about  which  they  treat  be  spices,  they 
deal  by  the  bahar,  which  bahar  weighs  three  of  our  cantari. 
If  they  be  stuffs,  they  deal  by  curia,  and  in  like  manner 
if  they  be  jewels.  By  a  curia  is  understood  twenty  ;  or, 
indeed,  they  deal  hy  far  a  sola,  which  farasola  weighs  about 
twenty-five  of  our  lire} 

1  The  names  of  these  weights  and  measures,  I  am  informed,  are  not 
Malayalim,  though  I  think  it  highly  probable  that  they  are  still  used 
by  the  Arabs  who  frequent  the  Malabar  coast.  Buhdr  is  an  Arabic 
word,  indicating  usually  a  weight  of  three  hundred  pounds.  By  some 
Arabian  lexicographers  it  is  supposed  to  be  of  Coptic  origin,  and  Prinsep 
seems  to  regard  it  as  a  term  "  properly  Hindu,"  a  corruption  either  of 
bhdra  or  bdha.  (See  Lane's  Arabic- English  Lexicon,  sub  voce  Buhdr, 
and  Prinsep's  Useful  Tables,  part  i.  p.  76.  Calcutta,  1834.)  Crawfurd 
says  it  is  the  only  weight  introduced  into  the  Archipelago  by  the  Arabs, 
and  was  in  use  even  as  far  as  the  Moluccas  when  the  Portuguese  first 
arrived.  (Descriptive  Dictionary  of  the  Indian  Islands,  sub  voce  Weights.) 
Hamilton  mentions  the  "  Bahaar"  as  a  weight  used  in  several  parts  of 
the  East  Indies  in  his  time.     Pinkerton's  Voyages,  vol.  viii.  p.  518. 

Curia  stands  undoubtedly  for  koraja,  and  Farasola  is  the  plural  of 
fdrsala,  both  words  being  still  in  ordinary  use  among  the  Arabs  of  the 
Red  Sea  and  Persian  Gulf  ;  but  I  am  unable  to  verify  their  origin.  The 
latter  seems  identical  with  ferrah,  a  corruption  of  parah,  the  name  of  an 
old  Hindu  weight,  which  is  known  throughout  India,  and  used  in  mea- 
suring lime,  etc. ;  and  the  former  may  be  derived  from  the  Sanscrit 
kauri,  a  score.  (Prinsep's  Tables,  id.)  Koraja  means  twenty,  and  is 
applied  to  bales  of  hides,  piece-goods,  etc.,  containing  that  number.  It 
is  written  "  Gorjes"  in  the  bill  of  goods  purchased  at  Mokha  in  1612  by 
Captain  John  Saris  from  a  native  merchant  of  Surat,  and  Saris  also 
enumerates  it  among-the  weights  and  measures  known  at  Java  and  other 
islands  of  the  Indian  Archipelago,  e,  g.  "  Taffata,  in  Boults,  an  hundred 
and  twelve  yards  the  Piece,  forty-six  Ryals  of  Eight  the  Oorj,  or  twenty 
Pieces."     Greene's  Collection  of  Voyages,  vol.  i.  pp.  466,  504. 

The  present  weight  of  a  fdrsala  at  Aden  is  28  lbs.  Hamilton,  who 
calls  it  "  Frasella,"  and  places  it  among  the  Banyan  Weights,  reckoned 
it  in  his  time  at  29|  lbs.  avoirdupois ;  and  Niebuhr,  who  names  it  among 
the  weights  of  Mokha,  makes  it  30  Uvres.  See  Pinkerton's  Voyages, 
vol.  viii.  p.  518 ;   Voyage  en  Arable,  vol.  iii.  p.  192. 



The  women  of  these  two  classes  of  people,  that  is,  the 
Poliari  and  Hirava,  suckle  their  children  for  about  three 
months,  and  then  they  feed  them  upon  cow's  milk  or  goat's 
milk.  And  when  they  have  crammed  them,  without  wash- 
ing either  their  faces  or  their  bodies,  they  throw  them  into 
the  sand,  in  which  they  remain  covered  up  from  the  morn- 
ing until  the  evening,  and  as  they  are  more  black  than  any 
other  colour,  they  cannot  be  distinguished  from  little  buf- 
falos  or  little  bears  ;  so  that  they  appear  misshapen  things, 
and  it  seems  as  though  they  were  fed  by  the  devil.  Their 
mothers  give  them  food  again  in  the  evening.  These  people 
are  the   most  agile   leapers   and  runners   in  the  world.1    I 

1  See  note  on  p.  142  ante.  That  this  is  not  an  exaggerated  picture  of 
the  mode  in  which  the  offspring  of  these  wretched  outcasts  are  nurtured, 
may  be  fairly  inferred  from  the  following  description  of  the  class  which 
they  compose  : — "  The  creatures  in  human  form,  who  constitute  the 
number  of  100,000,  the  agrestic  slave  population  of  Malabar,  are  dis- 
tinguishable, like  the  savage  tribes  still  to  be  found  in  some  of  the  forests 
in  India,  from  the  rest  of  the  human  race  by  their  degraded,  diminutive, 
squalid  appearance,  their  dropsical  pot-bellies  contrasting  horribly  with 
their  skeleton  arms  and  legs,  half-starved,  hardly  clothed  children,  and  in  a 
condition  scarcely  superior  to  the  cattle  that  they  follow  at  the  plough." 
(Thornton's  Gazetteer,  sub  voce  Malabar.)  Buchanan  says  :  "  The  only 
means  they  employ  to  procure  a  subsistence  is  by  watching  the  crops, 
to  drive  away  wild  hogs  and  birds.  Hunters  also  employ  them  to  rouse 
game  ;  and  the  A chumars,  who  hunt  by  profession,  give  them  one-fourth 
part  of  what  they  kill.  They  gather  a  few  wild  roots,  but  can  neither 
catch  fish,  nor  any  kind  of  game.  They  sometimes  procure  a  tortoise, 
and  are  able,  by  means  of  hooks,  to  kill  a  crocodile.  Both  these  am- 
phibious animals  they  reckon  delicious  food.  All  these  resources,  how- 
ever, are  inadequate  to  their  support,  and  they  subsist  chiefly  by  begging. 
They  have  scarcely  any  clothing,  and  every  thing  about  them  discloses 
want  and  misery.  They  have  some  wretched  huts  built  under  trees  in 
remote  places;  but  they  generally  wander  about  in  companies  of  ten  or 
twelve  persons,  keeping  at  a  little  distance  from  the  road  ;  and  when 
they  see  any  passenger  they  set  up  a  howl,  like  so  many  hungry  dogs." 

17:2  THE    TRAVELS    OF 

think  I  ought  not  to  omit  explaining  to  you  the  many  kinds 
of  animals  and  birds  which  are  found  in  Calicut,  and  espe- 
cially about  the  lions,  wild  hogs,  goats,  wolves,  kine,  buf- 
falos,  goats,  and  elephants  (which,  however,  are  not  pro- 
duced here,  but  come  from  other  places),1  great  numbers  of 
wild  peacocks,  and  green  parrots  in  immense  quantities  ;  also 
a  kind  of  red  parrot.  And  there  are  so  many  of  these 
parrots,  that  it  is  necessary  to  watch  the  rice  in  order  that 
the  said  birds  may  not  eat  it.  One  of  these  parrots  is  worth 
four  quatlriniy  and  they  sing  extremely  well.  I  also  saw 
here  another  kind  of  bird,  which  is  called  saru.2  They  sing- 
better  than  the  parrots,  but  are  smaller.  There  are  many 
other  kinds  of  birds  here  different  from  ours.  I  must  inform 
you,  that  during  one  hour  in  the  morning  and  one  hour  in 
the  evening  there  is  no  pleasure  in  the  world  equal  to  that 
of  listening  to  the  song  of  these  birds,  so  much  so  that  it  is 
like  being  in  paradise,  in  consequence  of  there  being  such 
a  multitude  of  trees  and  perpetual  verdure,  which  arises 
from  the  circumstance  that  cold  is  unknown  here,  neither  is 
there  excessive  heat.  In  this  country  a  great  number  of 
apes  are  produced,  one  of  which  is  worth  four  casse,  and 
one  casse  is  worth  a  quatlrino  They  do  immense  damage 
to  those  poor  men  who  make  wine.3  These  apes  mount  on 
the  top  of  those  nuts  and  drink  that  same  liquor,  and  then 

Hamilton's  account  is  somewhat  different.  He  says  :  "  they  are  cunning 
in  catching  wild  beasts  and  birds  ;"  and  strikingly  corroborates  Var- 
thema  by  remarking  that  "  they  are  very  swift  in  running."  Pinker- 
ton's  Voyages,  vol.  viii.  pp.  375-6,  739. 

1  Wild  elephants,  inferior  in  size  to  none  in  India,  exist  in  the  jungles 
and  forests  of  Malabar.  Varthema  probably  meant  that  they  were  not 
bred  in  the  immediate  vicinity  of  Calicut.  All  the  other  quadrupeds 
and  birds  which  he  enumerates,  and  a  great  many  besides,  abound  in  the 

2  Saru  is  probably  from  the  Persian  sar,  a  starling.  Shakespeare, 
however,  gives  saro  as  an  Hindostani  name  for  that  bird.  He  seems, 
moreover,  to  make  it  identical  with  the  maind  {Gracula  relujiosa). 

3  That  is,  cocoa-nut  wine,  or  toddy. 


they  overturn  the  vessel  and  throw  away  all  the  liquor  they 
cannot  drink. 


There  is  found  in  this  Calicut  a  kind  of  serpent  which  is 
as  large  as  a  great  pig,  and  which  has  a  head  much  larger 
than  that  of  a  pig,  and  it  has  four  feet,  and  is  four 
braza  long.1  These  serpents  are  produced  in  certain 
marshes.  The  people  of  the  country  say  that  they  have  no 
venom,  but  that  they  are  evil  animals,  and  do  injury  to 
people  by  means  of  their  teeth.  Three  other  kinds  of  ser- 
pents are  found  here  which,  if*  they  strike  a  person  a  little, 
that  is,  drawing  blood,  he  immediately  falls  to  the  ground 
dead.  And  it  has  often  happened  here  in  my  time  that 
there  have  been  many  persons  struck  by  these  animals,  of 
which  animals  there  are  three  kinds.  The  first  resemble 
deaf  adders  ;  the'next  are  scorpions  ;  the  third  are  thrice  as 
large  as  scorpions.  Of  these  three  kinds  there  are  immense 
numbers.  And  you  must  know  that  when  the  king  of 
Calicut  learns  where  the  nest  of  any  of  these  brutal  animals 
is,  he  has  made  over  it  a  little  house,  on  account  of  the 
water.2    And  if  any  person  should  kill  one  of  these   animals 

1  Crocodiles,  the  animals  here  indicated,  swarm  in  the  rivers  of  Mala- 
bar. "  Of  other  reptiles,  there  are  the  skink,  a  large  lizard  about  four 
feet  long,  the  salamander,  tortoise,  snakes  of  various  kinds,  as  the  cobra 
de  capello,  the  bite  of  which  results  in  inevitable  death,  and  many  other 
venomous  kinds,  as  also  the  boa  constrictor,  generally  swept  down  by 
torrents  from  the  jungly  valleys  of  the  Ghats."  Thoknton's  Gazetteer, 
sub  voce  Malabar. 

-  I  visited  one  of  these  retreats  for  serpents  at  Kolapore  in  the  South- 
ern Mahratta  country,  and  witnessed  them  feasting  on  milk  which  had 
been  prepared  for  them  by  the  guardians  of  the  shrine  ;  nevertheless,  on 
two  different  occasions  I  have  seen  Hindus  join  heartily  in  killing  a 
cobra  de  capello. 

Baldteus,  speaking  of  the  cobras  at  Negapatam,  soys  :  ;'  They  are  iu 

174:  THE    TRAVELS    OF 

the  king  would  immediately  put  him  to  death.  In  like 
manner,  if  any  one  kill  a  cow,  he  would  also  put  that  person 
to  death.  They  say  that  these  serpents  are  spirits  of  God, 
and  that  if  they  were  not  his  spirits,  God'  would  not  have 
given  them  such  a  power,  that  biting  a  person  a  little  he 
would  immediately  fall  dead.  And  it  is  from  this  circum- 
stance that  there  are  such  numbers  of  these  animals  who 
know  the  Pagans  and  do  not  avoid  them.  In  my  time  one 
of  these  serpents  entered  into  a  house  during  the  night  and 
bit  nine  persons,  and  in  the  morning  they  were  all  found 
dead  and  swollen.  And  when  the  said  Pagans  go  on  a 
journey,  if  they  meet  any  of  these  animals  they  receive  it  as 
a  good  augury. 


In  the  house  of  the  king  of  Calicut  there. are  many  cham- 
bers, in  which  as  soon  as  evening  comes  they  have  ten  or 
twelve  vases  made  in  the  form  of  a  fountain,  which  are  com- 
posed of  cast  metal,  and  are  as  high  as  a  man.  Each  of 
these  vases  has  three  hollow  places  for  holding  oil,  about 
two  spans  high  from  the  ground.  And,  first,  there  is  a  vase  in 
which  is  oil  with  cotton  wicks  lighted  all  round.  And 
above  this  there  is  another  vase  more  narrow,  but  with  the 
same  kind  of  lights,  and  on  the  top  of  the  second  vase  there 
stands  another  yet  smaller,  but  with  oil  and  lights  ignited. 
The  foot  of  this  vase  is  formed  in  a  triangle,  and  on  each  of 
the  faces  of  the  foot  there  are  three  devils  in  relief,  and  they 
are  very  fearful  to  behold.     These  are  the  squires  who  hold 

such  reverence  among  these  Pagans,  that  if  they  should  happen  to  kill 
one  of  them,  they  will  look  upon  it  as  an  expiable  [inexpiable  ?]  crime, 
and  to  forbode  some  great  misfortune."  Churchill's  Collection,  vol. 
iii.  p.  G51. 


the  lights  before  the  king.  This  king  also  makes  use  of 
another  custom.  When  one  of  his  relations  dies,  as  soon  as 
the  year  of  mourning  is  accomplished,  he  sends  an  invita- 
tion to  all  the  principal  Brahmins  who  are  in  his  own  king- 
dom, and  he  also  invites  some  from  other  countries.  And 
when  they  are  arrived,  they  make  great  feastings  for  three 
days.  Their  food  consists  of  rice  dressed  in  various  ways, 
the  flesh  of  wild  hogs,  and  a  great  deal  of  venison,  for  they 
are  great  hunters.  At  the  end  of  the  three  days,  the  said 
king  gives  to  each  of  the  principal  Brahmins  three,  four,  and 
five  par clai,  and  then  everyone  returns  to  his  house.  And 
all  the  people  of  the  kingdom  of  the  king  shave  their  beards 
for  joy. 


PEOPLE     CAME     TO     CALICUT    ON     THE     25th     OP 


Near  to  Calicut  there  is  a  temple  in  the  midst  of  a  tank, 
that  is,  in  the  midst  of  a  pond  of  water :  which  temple  is 
made  in  antique  style  with  two  rows  of  columns,  like  San 
Giovanni  in  Fonte  at  Rome.1    In  the  middle  of  that  temple 

1  This  was  probably  the  temple  which  De  Gama  and  his  companions 
visited  on  their  way  from  Padarane  to  Calicut  about  six  years  previously, 
and  where  some  of  them,  wittingly  or  unwittingly,  took  part  in  the 
heathen  services.  "  The  temple  was  as  large  as  a  great  monastery.  It 
was  built  of  freestone,  and  covered  with  tiles.  Over  the  front  door  there 
hung  seven  balls ;  and  before  it  stood  a  pillar  as  high  as  the  mast  of  a 
ship,  made  of  wire,  with  a  weathercock  of  the  same  at  top.  Within,  it 
was  full  of  images  :  this  made  De  Gama  and  the  rest  take  it  for  a  Chris- 
tian church.  Entering  it,  they  were  met  by  certain  men,  naked  from 
the  waist  upwards,  and  from  thence  to  the  knees  covered  with  calico. 
They  wore  pieces  of  calico  also  under  the  armpits,  with  certain  threads, 
which  were  hung  over  their  left  shoulder,  and  passed  under  the  right  arm, 
just  as  the  Romish  priests  used  to  wear  their  stoles  formerly.  These 
men,  with  a  sponge  dipped  in  a  fountain,  sprinkled  their  visitants  ;  and 
then  gave  each  of  them  some  Sanders  [sandal-wood]  pulverized  to  strew 

176  THE    TRAVELS    OF 

there  is  an  altar,  made  of  stone,  where  sacrifices  are  per- 
formed. And  between  each  of  the  columns  of  the  lower 
circle  there  stand  some  little  ships  made  of  stone,  which  are 
two  paces  long,  and  are  full  of  a  certain  oil,-  which  is  called 
Enna.1  Around  the  margin  of  the  said  tank  there  is  an  im- 
mense number  of  trees  all  of  one  kind,  on  which  trees  there 
are  lights  so  numerous  that  it  would  be  impossible  to  count 
them.  And  in  like  manner  around  the  said  temple  there  are 
oil  lights  in  the  greatest  abundance.  When  the  25th  day  of 
the  month  of  December  arrives,  all  the  people  for  fifteen 
days' journey  around,  that  is  to  say,  the  Naeri  and  Brahmins, 
come  to  this  sacrifice.  And  before  performing  the  said 
sacrifice,  they  all  wash  in  the  said  tank.  Then  the  principal 
Brahmins  of  the  king  mount  astride  of  the  little  vessels 
above-mentioned  where  the  oil  is,  and  all  these  people  come 
to  the  said  Brahmins,  who  anoint  the  head  of  each  of  them 
with  that  oil,  and  then  they  perform  the  sacrifice  on  that 
altar  before-mentioned.  At  the  end  of  one  side  of  this  altar 
there  is  a  very  large  Sathanas,  which  they  all  go  to  worship, 
and  then  each  returns  on  his  way.  At  this  season  the  land 
is  free  and  frank  for  three  days,  that  is,  they  cannot  exercise 

upon  their  heads,  (as  the  Papists  do  ashes,)  and  on  their  arms.  The 
Portuguese  did  one,  but  not  the  other,  because  their  clothes  were  on. 
On  the  walls  of  the  temple  were  many  images  painted,  some  with  great- 
teeth  sticking  above  an  inch  out  of  their  mouth  ;  others  with  four  arms, 
and  such  frightful  faces  that  the  Portuguese  began  to  doubt  whether  it 
was  a  Christian  church  or  not.  Upon  the  top  of  the  chapel,  which  stood 
in  the  middle  of  the  temple,  was  a  fort,  or  freestone  tower,  with  a  little 
wire  door,  and  stone  stairs  on  the  outside.  Id  the  wall  of  this  tower 
was  an  image,  on  sight  whereof  the  Malabars  called  out  '  Mary  !'  [Pro- 
bably some  native  word  of  similar  sound  forbidding  the  strangers  to 
approach  any  nearer,  or  inviting  them  to  worship.]  Whereupon  De 
Gama  and  the  rest,  taking  it  for  an  image  of  the  Virgin,  fell  on  their 
knees  and  prayed.  Only  one,  Juan  de  Sala,  who  had  some  doubt  of  the 
matter,  in  making  his  genuflexions,  said :  '  If  this  be  the  devil,  I  worship 
God  ;'  which  made  De  Gama  smile."  Gkeene's  Collection,  vol.  i.  p.  51. 
1  Probably  from  Neh,  one  of  the  Sanscrit  names  for  oil,  with  the 
Arabic  article  el-  or  en-  prefixed. 


vengeance  one  against  another.  In  truth,  I  never  saw  so 
many  people  together  at  one  time,  excepting  when  I  was  at 
Mecca.1  It  appears  to  me  that  I  have  sufficiently  explained 
to  you  the  customs  and  manner  of  living,  the  religion  and 
the  sacrifices,  of  Calicut.  Wherefore  departing  thence,  I 
will  recount  to  you  step  by  step  the  rest  of  my  journey, 
together  with  all  the  events  which  happened  to  me  in  the 
course  of  it. 

1  I  am  unable  to  determine  the  precise  festival  here  described,  and 
which  in  the  year  of  Varthema's  visit  (probably  1505)  fell  on  the  25th 
of  December.  In  many  respects  it  resembles  the  festival  at  Bijayanagar, 
which  was  also  of  three  days'  duration,  described  in  detail  by  'Abd  er- 
Razzak,  and  called  by  him  "  Mahanadi."  (See  India  in  the  XVth  Cen- 
tury, i.  pp.  35-39.)  Perhaps  it  was  the  Navardtra,  or  Hindu  New  Year ; 
but  it  would  not  be  difficult  for  those  skilled  in  comparative  chronology 
to  identify  it. 

178  THE    TRAVELS    OF 


My  companion,  who  was  called  Cogiazenor,1  seeing  that  he 
could  not  sell  his  merchandize  because  Calicut  was  ruined 
by  the  king  of  Portugal,  for  the  merchants  who  used  to 
come  there  were  not  there,  neither  did  they  come. — And  the 
reason  why  they  did  not  come  was  that  the  [king  of  Calicut] 
consented  that  the  Moors  should  kill  forty-eight  Portuguese, 
whom  I  saw  put  to  death.  And  on  this  account  the  king  of 
Portugal  is  always  at  war,  and  he  has  killed,  and  every  day 
kills,  great  numbers.  And  therefore  the  said  city  is  ruined, 
for  in  every  way  it  is  at  war.2 — And  so  we  departed,  and  took 

1  This  appears  to  be  the  same  person  that  Vartheina  picked  up  as  a 
companion  at  Shiriiz.     See  p.  103  ante. 

2  Although  Vasco  de  Gama's  first  reception  by  the  Zamorin  was  friendly, 
the  resident  Muhammedans  generally,  and  more  especially  the  foreign 
Arabs,  who  possessed  great  influence  at  the  court,  and  who  seem  to  have 
feared  a  rivalry  in  their  trade,  did  all  in  their  power  to  thwart  his  views. 
In  consequence  of  this  opposition,  De  Gama  left  India  without  establishing 
commercial  relations  with  Calicut.  Two  years  later, Pedro  Alvarez  Cabral 
succeeded  in  settling  a  factory  there,  but  the  Mekkah  merchants  prevented 
their  getting  any  cargoes,  and  instigated  an  attack  on  the  factory,  which 
was  completely  destroyed, and  many  Portuguese  killed.  In  revenge  for  this 
outrage,  Cabral  bombarded  the  town,  and  in  the  course  of  the  following 
year  the  Zamorin's  fleet  was  defeated  by  Juan  de  Nueva.  Between 
1502-3  De  Gama  again  appeared  before  Calicut,  and  having  seized  fifty 
Malabarians  at  sea  caused  them  to  be  hung  on  board  his  ships,  and  then 
ordered  their  amputated  hands  and  feet  to  be  sent  on  shore  in  a  prau. 
After  this,  he  cannonaded  the  place  for  several  hours,  demolishing  many 
houses,  and   among  them  the  Zamorin's  palace.     Then  in  1505  Lope 


our  road  by  a  river,1  which  is  the  most  beautiful  I  ever  saw, 
and  arrived  at  a  city  which  is  called  Cacolon,  distant  from 

Soarez  came  to  Calicut  with  a  fleet  of  thirteen  ships,  on  which  occasion 
certain  prisoners  who  had  been  taken  in  the  former  wars  were  delivered 
up  to  him  ;  but  as  some  were  detained,  he  battered  the  city  for  two  days, 
ruining  a  great  part  of  it,  and  killing  three  hundred  of  the  inhabitants. 
Calculating  that  Varthema  must  have  been  at  Calicut  about  this  time, 
I  think  it  highly  probable  that  the  forty-eight  Portuguese  whom  he  saw 
dead  were  the  individuals  who  had  not  been  surrendered  to  Soarez.  (See 
Greene's  Collection  of  Voyages,  vol.  i.  pp.  29-57,  whose  account  of  the 
early  voyages  of  the  Portuguese  to  India  is  extracted  from  Castenheda, 
De  Barros,  and  De  Faria  y  Souza.) 

1  The  maps,  unfortunately,  do  not  enable  me  to  decide  whether  inland 
navigation  is  practicable  to  the  southward  beginning  at  Calicut,  and 
Horsburgh  is  silent  on  that  particular  point ;  but  if  the  hydrography  of 
Keith  Johnston's  Atlas  is  correct,  there  is  a  continuous  water  commu- 
nication, formed  by  the  different  rivers  and  estuaries,  and  running 
parallel  with  the  coast,  extending  from  Panane,  (Thornton's  Ponany, 
and  Keith  Johnston's  Ponani,)  twenty-eight  miles  south  of  Calicut,  as 
far  as  Quilon,  which  is  nearly  two  degrees  to  the  southward  of  Panane. 
This  fact  would  partially  justify  Varthema  in  saying  that  he  proceeded 
on  his  journey  from  Calicut  "  by  a  river  ;"  but  I  am  inclined  to  think 
that,  with  the  exception,  perhaps,  of  an  occasional  very  brief  run  at  sea, 
from  one  estuary  to  another,  his  statement,  on  a  more  thorough  investi- 
gation than  I  have  the  means  of  giving  it,  will  be  verified  in  its  entirety, 
especially  as  I  find  that  Ibn  Batuta  appears  to  have  travelled  by  the 
same  route ;  for  he  says  :  "  I  proceeded,  therefore,  [from  Calicut]  to  that 
place  [Kawlani=Quilon]  by  river.  It  is  situated  at  a  distance  of  ten 
days  from  Calicut ;"  meaning,  of  course,  that  the  river  journey  occupied 
that  time.     See  Lee's  Translation,  p.  1 74. 

The  following  quotations  illustrate  the  subject  generally  : — "  Many  of 
these  rivers  [of  Malabar]  during  the  monsoon  have  inland  communica- 
tions, by  which  navigation  is  practicable,  from  stream  to  stream  and 
estuary  to  estuary,  in  a  direction  parallel  to  the  shore.  Of  these  waters, 
the  most  remarkable  is  that  of  Chowgaut,  a  fine  sheet  on  the  south- 
eastern frontier  towards  Cochin,  twenty  miles  in  length  and  eight  in 
breadth,  having  numerous  islands,  coves,  and  inlets,  and  characterized 
by  Buchanan  as  '  one  of  the  finest  inland  navigations  imaginable.'  " 
(Thornton.'s  Gazetteer,  sub  voce  Malabar.)  Of  the  river  of  Cochin, 
which  is  forty-nine  miles  to  the  south  of  Panane  or  Ponani,  Horsburgh 
says  :  "  It  may  be  considered  as  an  arm  of  the  sea,  for  it  extends  to  the 
southward  parallel  to  the  line  of  coast,  and  a  very  little  distant  from  it, 
communicating  with  Iviker  inlet  or  river,  which  falls  into  the  sea  to  the 

180  THE    TRAVELS    OF 

Calicut  fifty  leagues.1  The  king  of  this  city  is  a  pagan  and 
is  not  very  rich.  The  manner  of  living,  the  dress,  and  the 
customs,  are  after  the  manner  of  Calicut.  Many  merchants 
arrived  here,  because  a  great  deal  of  pepper  grows  in  this 
country,  and  in  perfection.  In  this  city  we  found  some 
Christians  of  those  of  Saint  Thomas,  some  of  whom  are 
merchants,  and  believe  in  Christ,  as  we  do.  These  say  that 
every  three  years  a  priest  comes  there  to  baptize  them,  and 
that  he  comes  to  them  from  Babylon.  These  Christians 
keep  Lent  longer  than  we  do ;  but  they  keep  Easter  like 
ourselves,  and  they  all  observe  the  same  solemnities  that  we 
do.  But  they  say  mass  like  the  Greeks.  The  names  of 
whom  are  four,  that  is  to  say,  John,  James,  Matthew,  and 
Thomas.2     The  country,  the  air,  and  the  situation,  resemble 

northward  of  Quilon,  forming  islands  by  the  various  inlets."  {Directory, 
vol.  i  p.  506.)  These  salt-water  inlets,  and  the  estuaries  communicating 
with  them,  form  what  is  technically  called  by  seamen  the  Backwater  of 

The  foregoing  extract  from  Horsburgh  convinces  me  that  Porca  or 
Parrakad,  which  lies  between  Cochin  and  Quilon,  is  sometimes,  if  not 
always,  insulated  by  the  rivers  and  estuaries  in  its  neighbourhood.  Var- 
thema  is  therefore  justified  in  calling  that  place  an  island.  See  p.  154, 
and  note  2. 

1  I  have  looked  in  vain  for  this  place  in  Thornton's  Gazetteer.  It  is 
written  Kayan  Kulam  in  Keith  Johnston's  Atlas,  but  the  same  desig- 
nation is  incorrectly  given  to  Quilon  also.  The  two  places  are  distinct, 
and  appear  always  to  have  had  distinct  names.  Barbosa,  a  few  years 
after  Varthema,  says  :  "  After  passing  the  aforesaid  place  [Porca,]  the 
kingdom  of  Coulan  commences,  and  the  rirst  place  is  called  Caincoulan, 
inhabited  by  many  Gentiles,  Moors,  and  Christians  of  the  doctrine  of 
Saint  Thomas,  many  of  whom,  in  the  interior,  live  among  the  Gentiles. 
Much  pepper  grows  in  this  place,  with  which  many  vessels  are  loaded." 
(Ramusio,  vol.  i.  p.  312.)  Bakheus,  nearly  a  century  and  a  half  later, 
describes  Kayan  Kulam  thus  : — "The  next  adjoining  kingdom  [to  Percatti 
or  Porca]  is  Calecoidany,  of  no  great  extent.  Here  the  Dutch  had  a 
factory."  (Cuurciiill's  Collection  of  Voyayes,  vol.  iii.  p.  643.)  Hamilton, 
who  writes  it  Coilcoloan,  says  it  is  "  a  little  principality  contiguous  to 
Porkah."  (Pinkerton's  Voyages,  vol.  viii.  p.  383.)  The  two  last  men- 
tioned authors  mention  Quilou  also,  the  former  calling  it  Coulang,  and 
the  latter  Coiloan. 

2  Varthema  would  have  bceu  more  correct  if  he  had  merely  adduced 


those  of  Calicut.      At  the  end  of  three  days  we  departed 

the  above  names  as  examples  of  those  borne  by  these  Christians  ;  but 
that  may  be  his  meaning. 

It  is  difficult  to  decide,  from  the  imperfect  and  prejudiced  accounts  of 
the  early  Portuguese,  to  what  rite  these  Christians  belonged  at  this 
period,  or  whether  they  belonged  to  more  rites  than  one.  Var- 
thema's  notice  of  them  is  very  brief,  and  what  he  does  say  would  apply 
equally  either  to  the  Syrian  Jacobite  or  to  the  Nestorian  community, 
with  the  exception  of  his  remark  about  Babylon,  which,  if  reliable,  (and 
he  was  less  likely  to  err  in  the  name  of  a  place  than  in  the  definition  of 
a  doctrine,)  undoubtedly  connects  the  Christians  whom  he  met  at  Caco- 
lon  with  the  latter.  Catholic  or  Patriarch  of  Babylon  is  the  vague  title 
which  has  been  applied  to  the  Primate  of  the  Nestorians  while  located 
successively  at  the  royal  seats  of  Seleucia,  Ctesiphon,  and  Baghdad,  and 
at  the  time  referred  to,  the  Nestorian  patriarchate  was  established  at 
Baghdad,  whereas  the  Jacobite  Patriarch  resided  theu,  as  he  does  still, 
at  Mardin  in  Mesopotamia.  Be  that  as  it  may,  at  the  present  day  the 
Christians  of  Malabar,  as  they  are  generally  called,  are  divided  into  two 
distinct  communities,  one  nominally  subject  to  the  spiritual  primacy  of 
the  Chaldean  Patriarch  at  Mosul,  {Chaldeans  is  the  name  assumed 
by  the  Nestorians  in  Turkey  and  Persia  who  have  submitted  to  the 
Church  of  Rome,)  and  the  other  recognizing  the  Syrian  Jacobite 
Patriarch  at  Mardin.  On  the  demise  of  the  Malabar  bishop  of  the  latter 
body,  a  successor,  in  the  person  of  a  native  priest,  was  sent  to  Mardin, 
where  he  was  consecrated  to  the  episcopate  under  the  name  of  Mar 
Athanasius ;  but  on  returning  to  India  the  validity  of  his  priesthood  was 
questioned  by  some  of  the  community,  who  asserted  that  he  had  been 
ordained  by  the  laying-on  of  the  bishop's  hands  after  the  death  of  the 
latter.  This  and  some  other  objections  induced  the  Jacobite  Patriarch 
to  send  one  Bishop  Kirillos  (Cyril,)  a  native  of  Mesopotamia,  to  Malabar, 
which  gave  rise  to  new  contentions  among  the  Jacobites  of  that  country, 
who,  from  all  the  accounts  that  have  reached  me,  appear  to  be  involved 
in  an  uninterrupted  succession  of  ecclesiastical  squabbles. 

The  Malabar  Christians  who  composed  the  Nestorian  section  have  as  a 
body  conformed  to  Rome,  preserving,  however,  their  own  Syriac  rituals, 
and  such  other  ecclesiastical  customs  and  observances,  of  eastern  origin, 
as  were  not  considered  heterodox  by  the  Latin  Church.  At  what  precise 
period  they  ceased  their  connexion  with  the  Nestorian  Patriarchate  at 
Baghdad  is  uncertain.  Efforts  were  certainly  made  by  Roman  mis- 
sionaries as  early  as  the  fourteenth  century  to  induce  the  Malabar 
Christians  generally  to  abjure  their  alleged  schism,  and  some  valuable 
notices  of  their  proceedings  at  that  epoch  will  be  found  in  Colonel 
Yule's  Preface  to  his  translation  of  the  Mirabilia  Descripta,  written  by 
Friar  Jordanus,  who  was  Bishop  of  Columlmm  (Quilon)  circa  A.D.  1330; 

182  THK    TR  WKI.S    OF 

from  this  place,  and  went  to  another  city  called  Colon,1  dis- 
tant from  that  above  mentioned  twenty  miles.  The  king  of 
this  city  is  a  Pagan,  and  extremely  powerful,  and  he  has 
20,000  horsemen,  and  many  archers,  and  is  constantly  at  war 

but  it  seems  most  probable  that  the  separation  was  not  consummated 
prior  to  the  settlement  of  the  Portuguese  in  India,  through  whose  instru- 
mentality the  Nestorians  were  brought  into  communion  with  the  See  of 
Home,  when,  of  course,  their  relations  with  the  Patriarch  at  Baghdad 
ceased,  and  their  priests  received  ordination  through  the  Latin  bishops 
located  in  the  country.  Recently,  however,  they  appear  to  have  become 
dissatisfied  with  that  arrangement,  and  decided  to  have  a  bisho})  of  their 
own.  Accordingly,  about  four  years  ago,  they  deputed  twelve  of  their 
number,  several  of  whom  had  been  ordained  to  the  minor  orders,  to  Mar 
Yusuf,  the  Chaldean  Patriarch  at  Mosul,  desiring  that  one  of  them 
should  be  raised  to  the  Episcopate.  Mar  Yusuf,  acting  on  instructions 
from  Rome,  declined  to  comply  with  this  very  natural  retpiest,  and  per- 
sisted in  his  refusal  notwithstanding  the  urgent  solicitations  of  the 
Chaldeans  in  favour  of  the  Malabariaus.  Resolved  not  to  be  frustrated, 
the  latter  proceeded  from  Mosul  to  Mar  Shimon,  the  Nestorian  Pa- 
triarch residing  at  Julamerk  in  Kurdistan,  who  readily  consecrated  the 
episcopal  candidate  ;  whereupon  the  deputation  returned  to  India.  It 
remains  to  be  seen  what  will  be  the  result  of  this  step  as  regards  the 
native  Christian  community  in  Malabar. 

1  The  modern  town  of  Quilon,  "  situated  in  the  native  state  of  Tra- 
vancore,  on  the  seacoast,  in  a  bight  where  ships  may  anchor  under 
shelter  at  about  two  and  a  half  or  three  miles  from  the  fort... The  vege- 
table productions  are  timber,  cocoa-nuts,  pepper,  cardamums,  ginger, 
betel-nuts,  and  coffee.  The  population  is  stated  to  be  about  20,000." 
(See  Thornton's  Gazetteer,  whose  account  of  the  place  is  very  meagre.) 
Quilon,  under  different  modifications  of  that  name,  is  mentioned  by  the 
earliest  Arabian  and  European  travellers  to  India,  and  appears  to  have 
been  a  considerable  mart  in  those  days.  It  is  unquestionably  the 
Kaukammali  of  the  Two  Muhammedan  travellers  of  the  ninth  century, 
who  describe  it  as  the  first  place  which  vessels  touch  at  proceeding  to 
India  from  Maskat,  and  a  month's  sail  from  that  port  with  a  fair  wind. 
(Pinkerton,  vol.  vii.  p.  185.)  Any  doubt  which  may  arise  on  this  point 
from  the  difference  in  the  name  is  removed  by  Lee's  note  on  Ibn 
Ratiita's  Kdwlam,  wherein  he  says  :  "  In  our  MS.,  as  well  as  in  that  of 
Mr.  Apetz,  it  often  appears  thus:  Kawkam."  (p.  169.)  El-Edrisi  also 
mentions  Kawlam  Meli,  in  the  viith.  Chapter  of  the  2nd.  Climate  ;  but 
erroneously  places  it,  I  think,  top  far  north.  (Viucent  attempts  to  re- 
concile the  difference  between  Kdwlcam  and  Kawlam  by  supposing  the 
translator  to  have  beeu  misled  by  the  want  of  diacritical  points  in  the 


with  other  kings.  This  country  has  a  good  port  near  to  the 
sea-coast.     No  grain  grows  here,  but  fruits,  as  at  Calicut, 

original,  which  was  certainly  not  the  case  in  this  instance,  for  neither 
word  in  Arabic  has  any  such  points  ;  but  he  very  judiciously  recognises 
in  the  suffix  Mali  a  reference  to  3IaU,  or  Malabar.  {Com.  and  Nav.  of 
the  Ancients,  vol.  ii.  p.  477.)  I  arn  very  much  disposed,  however,  after 
a  careful  analysis  of  the  original,  to  regard  El-Edrisi's  viiith.  Chapter 
as,  in  part,  a  recapitulation  of  the  viith.,  and  to  identify  another  place 
mentioned  in  the  latter,  or  rather  the  same  place  under  the  name  of 
Kalkiyan,  which  he  locates  six  days  from  Fandaraina  (see  note  on 
p.  113  ante,)  and  six  or  seven  days  from  Serindib  (Ceylon,)  and  de- 
scribes as  growing  much  brazil-wood,  with  the  town  of  Quilon. 

That  Quilon  is  identical  with  Marco  Polo's  Coulam  is  obvious  from 
his  description  of  the  people  and  productions  of  the  latter  place.  He 
says  :  "  Here,  among  the  idolaters,  dwell  Jews  and  Christians,  who  have 
a  language  of  their  own.  The  produce  are  pepper,  brazil,  indigo,  black 
lions,  and  white  parrots  of  divers  sorts... They  are  very  libidinous,  and 
marry  their  sisters."  (Gkeene's  Collection,  vol.  iv.  p.  G16.)  His  state- 
ment that  Coulam  is  situated  five  hundred  miles  north-west  from  Mala- 
bar (in  Pinherton  it  is  south-west !)  may  be  an  error  ;  but  whether  it  is 
so  or  not  depends  on  the  limits  which  he  allows  to  that  country.  It  is 
clear  that  he  extended  them  as  far  as  Cape  Comorin  on  the  south,  and 
carried  them  a  considerable  distance  up  the  coast  trending  to  the  north- 
east, for  he  writes  : — "  Sailing  sixty  miles  west  from  Zeilan  (Ceylon)  is 
the  great  province  of  Maabar...In  this  kingdom  is  a  pearl-fishery  be- 
tween the  coast  of  Zeilan,  in  a  bay  where  is  not  twelve  fathom  water," 
{Id.  p.  614,)  which  was  probably  Tuticorin.  Now,  that  district  which 
Marco  Polo  thus  includes  within  "  the  great  province  of  Maabar,"  Bar- 
bosa  in  the  sixteenth  century  comprehends  within  the  kingdom  of  Cou- 
lam, the  boundaries  of  which  he  prolongs  still  further  in  the  same 
direction  : — "  Leaving  this  island  of  Zailan,  and  returning  to  the  conti- 
nent where  it  bends  by  Cape  Cumeri,  we  come  at  once  upon  the  country 
of  the  king  of  Coulam,  and  of  other  kings  who  are  subject  to  him  and 
reside  therein,  which  is  called  Quilicare"  [Killakarai.]  And,  again  : — 
"  After  passing  the  province  of  Quilacare,  onward  by  the  coast,  towards 
the  north-east  wind,  there  is  another  town  called  Cael,  also  belonging  to 
the  king  of  Coulam.''''  (Ramesio,  vol.  i.  p.  313.)  From  which  it  is  evi- 
dent that  the  Malabar  of  these  writers  comprehended,  at  least,  the  entire 
line  of  coast  between  Cape  Comorin  and  the  Palk  Strait,  and  although 
that  distance  is  scarcely  more  than  half  the  five  hundred  miles  which 
Marco  Polo  places  between  Quilon  and  Malabar,  it  is,  nevertheless,  quite 
as  near  a  guess  as  his  saying  that  Maabar  is  only  "  sixty  miles  west  from 
Zeilan."     Vincent  comes  to  a  similar  conclusion,  though  I  do  not  per- 

184  THE    TRAVELS    OF 

and  pepper  in  great  quantities.  The  colour  of  this  people, 
their  dress,  manner  of  living,  and  customs,  are  the  same  as 
at  Calicut.  At  that  time,  the  king  of  this  city  was  the  friend 
of  the  king  of  Portugal,  but  being  at  war  with  others,  it  did 
not  appear  to  us  well  to  remain  here.  Wherefore,  we  took 
our  way  by  sea,  aforesaid,  and  went  to  a  city  which  is  called 
Chayl,1  belonging  to  the  same  king,  opposite  from  Colon  fifty 

ceive  on  what  ground  he  draws  a  distinction  between  Mahabar  and 
Malabar.  He  says  :  "  The  Mahabar  of  Marco  Polo  is  written  Malabar 
by  some  of  his  translators  ;  but  his  Mahabar  is  the  Coast  of  Corornan- 
del."  (Periplus,  vol.  ii.  p.  520  n.)  And  the  same  terminology  appears 
to  have  obtained  at  a  much  later  date,  for  Hamilton  writes: — "Having 
thus  run  along  the  seacoast  of  Malabar  from  Decully  to  Negapatam," 
etc.,  thereby  giving  to  Malabar  an  extension  of  nearly  six  hundred  miles. 
Pinkerton,  vol.  viii.  p.  389. 

The  following  is  Barbosa's  account  of  Quilon  : — "  Proceeding  onward 
[from  Caincoulan]  by  the  same  coast  towards  the  south,  there  is  another 
principal  seaport,  with  a  town  which  is  called  Coulam,  where  many 
Moors,  Pagans,  and  Christians  reside,  who  are  great  merchants,  and  owu 
many  ships  with  which  they  traffic  with  the  country  of  Coromandel,  the 
island  of  Zeilan,  Bengala,  Malacha,  Sumatra,  and  Pegu  ;  but  these  do 
not  trade  with  Cambaia.  Here  much  pepper  is  grown.  The  king  is  a 
Pagan,  and  a  great  lord  over  an  extensive  territory,  is  very  rich,  and  has 
many  warriors  who  for  the  most  part  are  expert  archers."  Ramusio, 
vol.  i,  p.  312. 

The  Portuguese  were  well  received  at  Coulan  on  their  first  arrival  in 
India,  and  Albuquerque  settled  a  factory  there  in  1503.  Its  political 
and  commercial  importance  seem  to  have  greatly  declined  during  the 
succeeding  century  and  a  half,  for  Baldteus,  who  styles  it  Coulang,  de- 
scribes it  as  the  least  ajnong  the  Malabar  kingdoms,  (see  Churchill's 
Collection  of  Voyages,  vol.  iii.  p.  643  ;)  and  Hamilton,  in  whose  time  it 
was  still  in  the  hands  of  the  Dutch,  and  who  writes  it  Coiloan,  calls  it  a 
small  principality,  and  says  that  its  trade  was  inconsiderable.  See  Pin- 
kerton, vol.  viii.  p.  383. 

1  This  name  has  also  disappeared  from  the  maps,  but  collating  Bar- 
bosa  with  Varthema,  I  conclude  that  it  is  identical  with  Hamilton's 
"  Coil,"  which  he  places  to  the  north-east  of  Tutecareen  on  the  "  pro- 
montory that  sends  over  a  reef  of  rocks  to  the  island  of  Zeilan,  called 
commonly  Adam's  Bridge."  (Pinkerton,  vol.  viii.  p.  384.)  Tuticorin, 
formerly  famous  for  its  pearl-fisheiy,  is  ninety  miles  nearly  due  east  of 
Quilon,  and  was  probably  the  spot  where  our  traveller  witnessed  the 
fishing  for  pearls  while  on  the  voyage  to  Chayl,  and  which  he  loosely 


miles.  We  saw  those  pearls  fished  for  [here]  in  the  sea,  in  the 
same  manner  as  I  have  already  described  to  you  in  Ormus. 

located  at  a  distance  of  fifty  miles  opposite  to  Colon.'''1  Chayl  seems,  more- 
over, to  be  identical  with  Marco  Polo's  Cael  or  Kael,  which  he  mentions 
before  enumerating  Coulam  and  other  regions  to  the  westward,  and 
describes  as  "a  great  city,  governed  by  Astiar...who  is  very  rich,  and 
uses  merchants  kindly."  (Greene,  vol.  iv.  p.  616.)  Barbosa's  account 
of  it  is  as  follows  : — "  After  passing  the  province  of  Quilacare,  \Killa- 
karai  of  Keith  Johnston's  Atlas,]  onward  by  the  coast,  towards  the  north- 
east wind,  there  is  another  city  called  Cael,  belonging  to  the  king  of 
Coulam,  inhabited  by  Pagans  and  Moors,  who  are  great  merchants,  and 
there  is  a  seaport  where  many  ships  from  Malabar,  Coromandel  and 
Bengala  come  every  year.  Here  traffic  is  carried  on  by  all  sorts  of  mer- 
chants from  every  quarter.  The  people  of  this  city  are  expert  jewellers, 
who  trade  in  small  pearls,  for  here  great  quantities  thereof  are  taken  ; 
and  this  fishery  belongs  to  the  king  of  Coulam,  and  for  many  years  past 
has  been  farmed  to  a  very  rich  Moorish  merchant."  Ramusio,  vol.  i. 
p.  313. 

I  am  surprised  that  Dr.  Vincent,  who  was  well  acquainted  with 
Ramusio's  Collection,  has  made  no  reference  to  this  Cael  or  Coil  in  his 
identification  of  the  Kolkhi  of  the  author  of  the  Periplus  with  the  Rom, 
and  Calligicum  of  Ptolemy  and  the  Kalis  of  Dionysius,  as  the  existence 
of  a  town  of  that  name,  and  in  the  locality  occupied  by  Cael,  seems  to 
supply  the  only  desideratum  for  removing  the  doubt  which  attaches  to 
his  deductions.  I  quote  his  argument  in  full,  leaving  the  reader  to  form 
his  own  judgment  on  my  suggestion  : — "  Ptolemy  has  still  another  par- 
ticular which  is  very  remarkable  ;  for  as  he  places  the  northern  point 
of  his  Taprobane  opposite  to  a  promontory  named  Koru,  so  he  has  an 
island  Koru  between  the  two,  and  a  Tala-Cori  on  Ceylon ;  and  Kory,  he 
says,  is  the  same  as  Calligicum... The  expedition  of  Ram  to  Ceylon,  and 
his  victory  over  Rhavan  or  Rhaban,  king  of  that  island,  is  one  of  the 
wildest  fables  of  Hindoo  mythology,  but  he  passed  into  the  island  at  the 
strait,  since  called,  by  the  Mohamedans,  Adam's  Bridge.  The  whole 
country  round,  in  consequence  of  this,  preserves  the  memorial  of  his 
conquest.  There  is  a  Ramanad-buram  on  the  continent  close  to  the 
bridge  ;  a  Rami-Ceram,  or  country  of  Ram,  the  island  close  to  the  con- 
tinent ;  [Rameswaram,  called  Rammanana  Kojel  by  Baldreus,  and  Ra- 
monan  Coil  by  D'Anville  ;]  and  a  Point  Rama  on  the  continent.  The 
bridge  itself,  formed  by  the  shoals  between  Rami-ceram  and  Manaar,  is 
Rama's  Bridge  ;  and  in  Rami-ceram  is  Raman-Koil,  the  temple  of  Ram. 
This  Koil  or  temple  [Koil  means  a  temple  in  Malayalim]  is  undoubtedly 
the  origin  of  Koru ;  and  the  repetition  of  it  three  times  in  Ptolemy  is  in 
perfect  correspondence  with  the  various  allusions  to  Ram  at  the  present 

186  THE    TRAVELS    OF 



Wc  then  passed  further  onwards,  and  arrived  at  a  city 
which  is  called  Cioromandel,1  which  is  a  marine  district,  and 

day.  Roru  is  likewise  written  Kolis  by  Dionysius,  and  the  natives  called 
Koniaki,  Koliki,  and  Koliaki,  by  different  writers.  This  fluctuation  of 
orthography  will  naturally  suggest  a  connection  with  the  Kolkhi  of 
Ptolemy  and  the  Periplus,  which  both  of  them  make  the  seat  of  the 
Pearl  Fishery  ;  and  if  Sosikoor5  be  Tuta-corin,  as  D'Anville  supposes, 
the  relation  of  Kolkhi  to  that  place  will  lead  us  naturally  to  the  vicinity 
of  Ramana-Koil  ;  for  Tuta-corin  was  the  point  where  the  Dutch  pre- 
sided over  the  fishery  while  it  was  in  their  hands,  and  maintains  the 
same  privilege  now  under  the  power  of  the  English.  But  Koil,  whether 
we  consider  it,  with  Ptolemy,  as  the  point  of  the  continent,  or  seek  for 
it  on  the  island  of  Ramiseram,  is  so  near,  and  so  intimately  connected 
with  Manaar,  the  principal  seat  of  the  fishery,  that  there  can  be  little 
hesitation  in  assigning  it  to  the  Kolkhi  of  the  ancients.  Whether  there 
be  now  a  town  of  consequence  either  on  the  continent  or  on  the  island, 
I  am  not  informed  ;  but  that  Koil,  and  Kolis,  and  Kolkhi,  and  Kalli- 
gicum,  (for  Kalligicum,  Salmasius  reads  K<i>Aio.k6v,)  are  related,  I  have 
no  doubt."  Commerce  and  Navigation  of  the  Ancients,  vol.  ii.  pp.  501- 

1  I  am  not  aware  that  a  city  so  called  has  ever  existed  on  the  coast 
referred  to,  and  am  therefore  led  to  conclude  that  in  this  instance,  as  in 
the  case  of  Bijapur  which  Varthema  styled  "  Decan,"  he  gives  to  one  of 
the  principal  towns  the  name  of  the  district  in  which  it  was  located.  The 
alleged  vicinity  of  St.  Thomas's  tomb  points  to  the  neighbourhood  of 
Maliapur  ;  but  as  that  position  is  irreconcileable  with  the  other  indica- 
tions supplied,  I  am  inclined  to  infer  either  that  our  author  was  mis- 
informed in  that  particular,  or  that  an  error  in  the  numerals  record- 
ing the  distance  has  crept  into  the  existing  versions  of  his  travels. 
His  "  Cioromandel"  I  take  to  be  Negapatam,  "  a  town  on  the  western 
coast  of  the  Bay  of  Bengal.  Here  is  a  diminutive  estuary  of  the  Cau- 
very,  capable  of  receiving  small  coasting-vessels,  which  carry  on  a  con- 
siderable trade... The  inhabitants  have  also  considerable  traffic  with 
Ceylon,  and  the  lands  and  islands  lying  eastward."  (Thornton's  Ga- 
zetteer.) It  appears  to  have  been  the  principal  town  on  that  part  of  the 
coast,  for  Ralph  Fitch  nearly  a  century  after  Varthema  does  not  men- 
tion the  name  of  Coromandel,  but  describes  it  as  "  the  mainland  of 
Negapatan."  (Pinkeuton,  vol.  ix.  p.  424.)  Its  situation  about  three 
hundred   miles,  by  the  coast,  from  Quilon  would  make  the  interval  be- 


distant  from  Colon  seven  clays'  journey  by  sea,  more  or  less, 
according  to  the  wind.  This  city  is  very  large,  and  is  not 
surrounded  by  walls,  and  is  subject  to  the  king  of  Narsinga. 
The  said  city  is  situated  opposite  to  the  island  of  Zeilon, 
when  you  have  passed  the  Cape  of  Cumerin.  In  this  district 
they  gather  a  great  quantity  of  rice,  and  it  is  the  route  to 
very  large  countries.  There  are  many  Moorish  merchants 
here  who  go  and  come  for  their  merchandize.  No  spices  of 
any  description  grow  here,  but  plenty  of  fruits,  as  at  Calicut. 
1  found  some  Christians  in  this  district  who  told  me  that  the 
body  of  St.  Thomas  was  twelve  miles  distant  from  that  place, 
and  that  it  was  under  the  guard  of  some  Christians.  They 
also  told  me  that  Christians  could  not  live  in  that  country 
after  the  king  of  Portugal  had  come  there,  because  the  said 
king  had  put  to  death  many  Moors  of  that  country,  which 
trembled  throughout  from  fear  of  the  Portuguese.  And, 
therefore,  the  said  poor  Christians  cannot  live  here  any 
longer,  but  are  driven  away  and  killed  secretly,  in  order 
that  it  may  not  come  to  the  ears  of  the  king  of  Narsinga, 
who  is  a  very  great  friend  of  the  Christians,  and  especially 
of  the  Portuguese.  One  of  these  Christians  also  told  me  a 
very  great  miracle  which  his  priest  had  told  him,  that  forty- 
five  years  ago  the  Moors  had  a  dispute  with  the  Christians, 
and  there  were  wounded  on  both  sides  ;  but  one  Christian, 
among  the  rest,  was  much  wounded  in  the  arm,  and  he  went 
to  the  tomb  of  St.  Thomas  and  touched  the  tomb  of  St. 
Thomas  with  that  wounded  arm,  and  immediately  he  was 

tween  the  two  places  a  seven  days'  voyage  "  more  or  less,  according  to 
the  wind  ;"  and  the  actual  distance  which  separates  it  from  the  nearest 
point  of  Ceylon  being  one  degree  of  latitude,  conresponds  approximately 
with  the  twelve  or  fifteen  leagues  which  Varthema  subsequently  places 
between  his  C ioromandel  and  that  island.  The  shoals  and  rocks  in  the 
Palk  Strait  render  navigation  difficult  at  all  times,  and  his  notice  of 
them  as  endangering  the  passage  from  the  mainland  is  an  additional 
argument  in  favour  of  the  foregoing  identification,  proving,  at  least, 
that  his  Ciororaandel  was  to  the  northward  of  Calimere  Point. 

188  THE    TRAVELS    OF 

cured.1  And  that  from  that  time  henceforward,  the  king  of 
Narsinga  has  always  wished  well  to  the  Christians.  My 
companion  disposed  of  some  of  his  merchandize  here,  and 
inasmuch  as  they  were  at  war  with  the  king  of  Tarnassari 
we  remained  here  only  a  few  days,  and  then  we  took  a  ship 
with  some  other  merchants,  which  ships  are  called  Ciampane~ 
for  they  are  flat-bottomed,  and  require  little  water  and  carry 
much  goods.  We  passed  a  gulf  of  twelve  or  fifteen  leagues 
where  we  had  incurred  great  peril  because  there  are  many 
shoals  and  rocks  there ;  however,  we  arrived  at  an  island 
called  Zailon,3  which  is  about  1000  miles  in  circumference, 
according  to  the  report  of  the  inhabitants  thereof. 


In  this  island  of  Zailon  there  are  four  kings,4  all  Pagans. 

1  A  very  insignificant  miracle  compared  with  many  others  attributed 
to  the  sepulchre  of  St.  Thomas.  Barbosa  piously  records  a  tradition 
that  the  right  arm  of  the  Apostle  protruded  from  his  tomb  at  Maliapur, 
and  for  a  long  time  resisted  every  attempt  to  cover  it. 

2  Sampan,  the  common  name  for  a  canoe  or  skiff  in  Malay  and 

3  Ceylon.  Our  traveller's  informants  were  better  acquainted  with  the 
extent  of  the  island  than  Marco  Polo,  who  made  it  2,400  miles  in  circuit, 
and  says  that  "  anciently  it  was  3,600  miles,  as  is  seen  in  the  maps  of 
the  mariners  of  those  -places  ;  but  the  north  winds  have  made  a  great 
part  of  it  sea."  (Pinkerton,  vii.  p.  161.)  Nicold  de'  Conti  estimated 
its  circumference  at  3,000  miles.  "  The  extreme  length  of  the  island  is 
about  270  miles  ;  its  breadth  varies  greatly,  but  the  average  is  about 
100  miles."     Thornton's  Gazetteer. 

From  the  description  which  Varthema  gives  of  the  locality, — the  large 
river,  the  adjacent  mountains,  and  the  cinnamon  cultivation, — I  con- 
clude that  he  landed  at  Colombo  on  the  western  coast ;  for  it  is  by  no 
means  a  necessary  inference  that  because  he  mentions  the  width  of  the 
passage  between  the  mainland  and  the  island  that  the  voyage  was 
limited  to  that  extent. 

4  Marco  Polo  gives  the  same  number  of  kings  in  his  time.  Varthema's 
brief  description  of  the  political  condition  of  the  island  at  the  period  of 


I  do  not  describe  to  you  all  the  things  of  the  said  island,  be- 
cause these  kings  being  in  fierce  war  with  each  other,  we 
could  not  remain  there  long,  neither  could  we  see  or  hear 
the  things  thereof;  however,  having  remained  there  some 
few  days,  we  saw  that  which  you  shall  hear.  And  first,  an 
immense  quantity  of  elephants  which  are  produced  there.1 

his  visit  is  fully  confirmed  by  Sir  J.  E.  Tennent.  Writing  of  a.d.  1505, 
he  says  :  "  The  seaports  on  all  parts  of  the  coast  were  virtually  in  the 
hands  of  the  Moors  :  the  north  was  in  the  possession  of  the  Malabars, 
whose  seat  of  government  was  at  Jaffna-patam  ;  and  the  great  central 
region,  (since  known  as  the  Wanny,)  and  Neuera-kalawa,  were  formed 
into  petty  chiefships,  each  governed  by  a  Wanniya,  calling  himself  a 
vassal,  but  virtually  uncontrolled  by  any  paramount  authority.  In  the 
south  the  nominal  sovereign  Dharma  Prakrama  Bahu  IX.  had  his  capital 
at  Cotta,  near  Colombo,  whilst  minor  kings  held  mimic  courts  at  Ba- 
dulla,  Gampola,  Peradenia,  Kandy,  and  Mahagarn,  and  caused  repeated 
commotions  by  their  intrigues  and  insurrections.  The  rulers  had  long 
ceased  to  busy  themselves  with  the  endowment  of  temples,  and  the 
construction  of  works  for  irrigation ;  so  that  already  in  the  fourteenth 
century,  Ceylon  had  become  dependent  upon  India  for  supplies  of  food, 
and  annually  imported  rice  from  the  Dekkan."  {Ceylon,  vol.  ii.  p.  7.) 
The  same  author,  in  a  note  on  the  above  passage  from  Varthema,  re- 
marks : — "  These  conflicts  and  the  actors  in  them  are  described  in  the 
Singhalese  chronicle  called  the  Rajavali."  I  could  not  find  Upham's 
translation  of  that  work  in  the  British  Museum  ;  but  the  following  ex- 
tract from  Knighton  is,  I  presume,  partly  based  on  its  authority : — "We 
have  already  explained  that  on  the  arrival  of  Almeida,  Ceylon  was  di- 
vided into  three  distinct  principalities,  of  which  Dharma  Pakrama- 
bahu  IX.,  who  then  resided  at  Cotta  was  king  of  the  larger  and  more 
important  one,  the  other  two  being  the  territory  of  the  Malabars  in  the 
north  and  the  wild  Veddahs  on  the  north  and  east.  Europeans  have 
frequently  been  misled  into  the  idea  that  the  island  was  divided  into  a 
vast  number  of  petty  kingdoms,  each  independent  of  the  other.  Such, 
however,  was  not  the  case.  Sub-kings,  or,  as  we  should  call  them,  lieu- 
tenants, subject  to  the  Emperor  of  Cotta,  were  appointed  in  many 
places,  who  frequently  endeavoured  to  play  upon  western  visitors,  by 
representing  themselves  as  independent  princes."  History  of  Ceylon, 
pp.  222-3. 

i  "  The  elephant,  the  lord  paramount  of  the  Ceylon  forests,  is  to  be  met 
with  in  every  district,  on  the  confines  of  the  woods. ..In  recent  years  there 
is  reason  to  believe  that  their  numbers  have  become  considerably  re- 
duced."    Tennent's  Ceylon,  vol.  i.  p.  158. 

190  THE    TRAVELS    OF 

We  also  saw  rubies  found  there,  at  a  distance  of  two  miles 
from  the  sea  shore,  where  there  is  an  extremely  large  and 
very  long  mountain,  at  the  foot  of  which  the  said  rubies  are 
found.1  And  when  a  merchant  wishes  to  find  these  jewels, 
he  is  obliged  first  to  speak  to  the  king  and  to  purchase  a 
braza  of  the  said  land  in  every  direction,  (which  braza  is 
called  a  molan,)~  and  to  purchase  it  for  five  ducats.  And  then 
when  he  digs  the  said  land,  a  man  always  remains  there  on 
the  part  of  the  king.  And  if  any  jewel  be  found  which  ex- 
ceeds ten  carats,  the  king  claims  it  for  himself,  and  leaves  all 
the  rest  free.  There  is  also  produced  near  to  the  said  moun- 
tain, where  there  is  a  very  large  river,3  a  great  quantity  of 
garnets,  sapphires,  jacinths,  and  topazes.4  In  this  island  there 
grow  the  best  fruits  I  have  ever  seen,  and  especially  certain 
artichokes  (carzofoli)  better  than  ours.5  Sweet  oranges,  (me- 
langoli,)  the  best,  I  believe,  in  the  world,  and  many  other 
fruits  like  those  of  Calicut,  but  much  superior. 

1  "  The  extent  to  which  gems  are  still  found  is  sufficient  to  account 
for  the  early  traditions  of  their  splendour  and  profusion,  and  fabulous 
as  the  story  of  the  ruby  of  the  Khandyan  king  may  be,  [which  accord- 
ing to  Marco  Polo  was  a  span  in  length,  and  without  a  flaw,]  the  abun- 
dance of  gems  in  Safiragam  has  given  the  capital  of  the  district  the 
name  of  Itatnapoora,  which  means  literally  the  City  of  Rubies.  They 
arc  not,  however,  confined  to  this  quarter  alone,  but  quantities  are  still 
found  on  the  western  plains,  between  Adam's  Peak  and  the  sea."  /(/. 
p.  33. 

-  Perhaps  for  Ammonan,  which  according  to  Pridham  was  equal  to 
2  acres,  2  square  roods,  37i  square  inches.  Ceylon  and  its  Dependencies, 
vol.  ii.  p.  853. 

3  This  was  most  probably  the  Kalane-ganga,  which  Pridham  describes 
as  "  the  chief  river  of  the  island  in  importance. ..It  is  formed  by  the 
union  of  several  torrents  which  have  their  source  in  the  western  division 
of  the  mountainous  range  of  Saffragam,  connected  with  Adam's  Peak... 
It  debouches  at  Modera,  about  four  miles  to  the  north  of  the  fort 
of  Colombo."  {Id.  p.  G35.)  The  river  is  navigable  for  a  considerable 
distance  from  its  mouth. 

4  These  and  many  other  precious  stones  are  enumerated  and  described 
in  Tennent's  Ceylon,  vol.  i.  pp.  33-38. 

5  Probably  the  Custard  Apple,  which  in  outer  form  is  not  unlike  an 



The  tree  of  the  Canella  is  the  same  as  the  laurel,  especi- 
ally the  leaves;  and  it  produces  some  berries  like  the  laurel, 
but  they  are  smaller  and  more  white.  The  said  Canella,  or 
Cinnamon,  is  the  bark  of  the  said  tree,  in  this  wise :  Every 
three  years  they  cut  the  branches  of  the  said  tree,  and  then 
take  off  the  bark  of  them  ;  but  they  do  not  cut  the  stem  on 
any  account  There  are  great  numbers  of  these  trees.  When 
they  collect  that  cinnamon  it  has  not  the  excellence  which  it 
possesses  a  month  afterwards.1  A  Moorish  merchant  told  me 
that  at  the  top  of  that  very  large  mountain  there  is  a  cavern 
to  which  the  men  of  that  country  go  once  in  the  year  to  pray, 
because,  as  they  say,  Adam  was  up  there  praying  and  doing 
penance,  and  that  the  impressions  of  his  feet  are  seen  to  this 
day,  and  that  they  are  about  two  spans  long.2   Rice  does  not 

1  If  this  is  true,  the  cultivation  and  preparation  of  cinnamon  must 
have  been  very  backward  in  Varthema's  time,  as  at  present  it  appears  to 
be  gathered  twice  a-year. — "  The  best  cinnamon  is  obtained  from  the 
twigs  or  shoots,  which  spring  almost  perpendicularly  from  the  roots  after 
the  parent  bush  or  tree  has  been  cut  down  ;  but  great  care  is  requisite 
both  as  to  the  exact  size  and  age... The  rods  cut  for  peeling  are  of  vari- 
rous  sizes  and  lengths,  depending  on  the  texture  of  the  bark  :  these  are 
first  peeled,  then  scraped  on  the  outside,  and  while  drying  cut  up  into 
long  narrow  rolls  called  quills,  then  stuck  into  one  another,  so  as  to  form 
pipes  about  three  feet  long,  which  are  then  made  up  in  round  bundles. 
There  are  two  regular  seasons  for  taking  cinnamon,  one  from  April  to 
August,  another  from  to  November  to  January  ;  but  considerable  quan- 
tities are  gathered  at  other  times  as  the  spice  attains  maturity."  Prid- 
ham,  Ceylon  and  its  Dependencies,  p.  387. 

2  "  Adam's  Peak  is  7,420  feet  above  the  level  of  the  sea,  and  its  sum- 
mit, of  an  elliptic  form,  72  feet  in  length  by  34  in  breadth,  is  surrounded 
by  a  wall  five  feet  high.  Immediately  within  this,  a  level  space  of  irre- 
gular breadth  runs  all  the  way  round,  and  the  centre  is  occupied  by  the 
apex  of  the  mountain,  a  solid  granite  rock  about  nine  feet  high  at  the 
highest  part.  On  this  is  the  Sree  Pada,  or  Sacred  Footstep.  Whether  this 
much  cherished  memorial  is  rightfully  attached  to  Saman  by  a  prior  claim 
(whence  Samanala,  Hamallel,  or  Samantakuta,)  the  Sree  Pada  is  now 

192  THE    TRAVELS    OF 

grow  in  this  country,  but  it  comes  there  from  the  main  land. 
The  kings  of  this  island  are  tributaries  of  the  king  of  Nar- 
singa,  on  account  of  the  rice  which  comes  there  from  the 
main  land.1    The  air  in  this  island  is  extremely  good,  and 

held  by  the  Buddhists  to  be  a  memorial  of  Gautama  Buddha  ;  by  the 
Mohammedans  it  is  claimed  for  Adam,  and  called  Baba-Aadamlai  ;  and 
the  Malabars  and  other  Hindoos  maintain  that  it  was  Siva  who  left  the 
impression  of  a  monster  footstep,  and  call  it  Sivanolipadam."  Id.,  ii. 
p.  614-5. 

Sale  has  the  following  respecting  the  Mussulman  tradition  above  al- 
luded to  : — "  The  Mohamedans  say,  that  when  they  were  cast  down  from 
paradise,  Adam  fell  on  the  island  of  Ceylon,  or  Serindib,  and  Eve  near 
Juddah,  the  port  of  Mcccah,  in  Arabia  ;  and  that  after  a  separation  of 
two  hundred  years,  Adam  was,  on  his  repentance,  conducted  by  the 
angel  Gabriel  to  a  mountain  near  Mekkah,  where  he  found  and  knew  his 
wife,  the  mountain  being  thence  named  Arafat  ;  and  that  he  afterwards 
retired  with  her  to  Ceylon,  where  they  continued  to  propagate  their 

"  It  may  not  be  improper  here  to  mention  another  tradition  concern- 
ing the  gigantic  stature  of  our  first  parents.  Their  prophet,  they  say, 
affirmed  Adam  to  be  as  tall  as  a  high  palm-tree  ;  but  this  would  be  too 
much  in  proportion,  if  that  were  really  the  print  of  his  foot,  which  is 
pretended  to  be  such,  on  the  top  of  a  mountain  in  the  isle  of  Ceylon, 
thence  named  Pico  di  Adam,  and  by  the  Arab  writers  RahAn,  being 
somewhat  about  two  spans  long  ;  though  others  say  it  is  seventy  cubits 
long,  and  that  when  Adam  set  one  foot  here,  he  had  the  other  in  the 
sea  ; — and  too  little,  if  Eve  were  of  so  enormous  a  size,  that  when  her 
head  lay  on  one  hill  near  Meccah,  her  knees  rested  on  two  others  in  the 
plain,  about  two  musket-shots  asunder."  Note  on  chapter  ii.  of  the 

Ibn  Batuta  mentions  "  a  cave  known  by  the  name  of  Ista  Mahmud," 
also  "a  place  called  the  seven  caves,"  and  again  "the  ridge  of  Alex- 
ander, in  which  is  a  cave  and  a  well  of  water,"  on  his  pious  pilgrimage 
to  Adam's  Foot,  (Lee's  Translation,  p.  187-9  ;)  but  I  find  no  mention  of 
any  locality  corresponding  with  Varthema's  "cavern"  in  the  modern 
descriptions  of  the  route  up  to  the  Peak. 

1  On  this  statement  Sir  J.  E.  Tennent  remarks  : — "  There  can  be  little 
doubt  that  it  applied  chiefly  to  the  southern  parts  of  the  island,  and 
that  the  north  was  still  able  to  produce  food  sufficient  for  the  wants  of 
the  inhabitants."  Rice  appears  to  have  been  extensively  cultivated  in 
many  parts  of  Ceylon,  but  probably  not  in  the  maritime  district  visited 
by  Varthcma.  "The  soil  near  the  coast  is  light  and  sandy,  but  in  the 
great  central  districts  of  Neuera-kalawa  and  the  Wanny,  there  is  found 


the  people  are  of  a  dark  tawny  colour.  And  here  it  is 
neither  too  hot  nor  too  cold.  Their  dress  is  alia  apostolica  ; 
they  wear  certain  stuffs  of  cotton  or  silk,  and  go  bare-footed. 
This  island  is  placed  under  the  equinoctial  line,  and  the  in- 
habitants of  it  are  not  very  warlike.  Artillery  is  not  used 
here ;  but  they  have  some  lances  and  swords,  which  lances 
are  of  cane,  and  with  these  they  fight  amongst  each  other ; 
but  they  do  not  kill  each  other  over.much,  because  they  are 
cowardly  fellows.1  Here  there  are  roses  and  flowers  of  every 
kind,2  and  the  people  live  longer  than  we  do.  Being  in 
our  ship  one  evening,  a  man  came  on  the  part  of  the  king  to 

in  the  midst  of  the  forests  a  dark  vegetable  mould,  in  which  in  former 
times  rice  was  abundantly  grown  by  the  aid  of  prodigious  artificial 
works  for  irrigation,  the  ruins  of  which  still  form  one  of  the  wonders  of 
the  island.  Even  after  centuries  of  neglect,  the  beds  of  many  of  these 
tanks  cover  areas  of  from  ten  to  fifteen  miles  in  circumference.  They 
are  now  generally  broken  and  decayed  ;  the  waters  which  would  fertilise 
a  province  are  allowed  to  waste  themselves  in  the  sands,  and  hundreds 
of  square  miles  capable  of  furnishing  food  for  all  the  inhabitants  of 
Ceylon  are  abandoned  to  solitude  and  malaria,  whilst  rice  for  the  sup- 
port of  the  non-agricultural  population  is  annually  imported  from  the 
opposite  coast  of  India."     Ceylon,  vol.  i.  pp.  27,  639. 

1  Fire-arms  appear  to  have  been  unknown  in  Ceylon  at  this  period. 
Referring  to  the  introduction  of  them  into  the  island  by  the  Portuguese, 
Sir  J.  E.  Tennent  quotes  the  following  passage  from  the  Rajavali  : — "  And 
now  it  came  to  pass  that  in  the  Christian  year  1522  [1507  ?],  a  ship  from 
Portugal  arrived  at  Colombo,  and  information  was  brought  to  the  king, 
that  there  were  in  the  harbour  a  race  of  very  white  and  beautiful  people 
who  wear  boots  and  shoes,  and  never  stop  in  any  place.  They  eat  a  sort 
of  white  stone,  and  drink  blood  ;  and  if  they  get  a  fish  they  give  two  or 
three  ride  in  gold  for  it  ;  and,  besides,  they  have  guns  with  a  noise  like 
thunder,  and  a  ball  shot  from  one  of  them,  after  traversing  a  league, 
will  break  a  castle  of  marble."  {Ceylon,  vol.  i.  p.  418.)  Marco  Polo 
says  of  the  Singhalese  :  "  the  men  are  unfit  for  soldiers,  and  hire  others 
when  they  have  occasion."     Pinkerton,  vol.  vii.  p.  162. 

8  "  The  indigenous  phamogamic  plants  described  up  to  August  1856 
was  26, 700... When  it  is  considered  that  this  is  nearly  double  the  in- 
digenous flora  of  England,  and  little  under  one-thirtieth  of  the  entire 
number  of  plants  hitherto  described  over  the  world,  the  botanical  rich- 
ness of  Ceylon,  in  proportion  to  its  area,  must  be  regarded  as  equal  to 
that  of  any  portion  of  the  globe."     Tennent's  Ceylon,  vol.  i.  p.  83  n. 


194  THE    TRAVELS    OF 

my  companion,  and  told  him  that  he  should  carry  to  him  his 
corals  and  saffron  ;  for  he  had  a  great  quantity  of  both.  A 
merchant  of  the  said  island,  who  was  a  Moor,  hearing  these 
words,  said  to  him  secretly  :  "  Do  not  go  to  the  king,  for  he 
will  pay  you  for  your  goods  after  his  own  fashion."  And 
this  he  said  out  of  cunning,  in  order  that  my  companion 
might  go  away,  because  he  himself  had  the  same  kind  of 
merchandize.  However,  answer  was  given  to  the  message 
of  the  king,  that  on  the  following  day  he  would  go  to  his 
lord.  And  when  morning  came,  he  took  a  vessel  and  rowed 
over  to  the  mainland. 



We  arrived  in  the  course  of  three  days  at  a  place  which  is 
called  Palcachet,1  which  is  subject  to  the  king  of  Narsinga. 

1  Pulicat  :  "  a  town  in  the  British  district  of  Chingleput,  about 
twenty-two  miles  north  of  Madras,  situated  on  an  extensive  inlet  of  the 
sea,  or  salt  water  lake,  of  the  same  name. ..From  one  to  two  miles  off 
shore  is  the  road  called  Pulicat  Anchorage,  where  there  arc  six  or  seven 
fathoms  water."  (Thouxton's  Gazetteer.)  Pulicat  appears  to  have  been 
a  place  of  considerable  trade  at  this  period.  Barbosa  describes  it  a  few 
years  after  Varthema  as  having  a  good  port,  which  was  frequented  by 
"an  infinite  number"  of  Moorish  vessels  from  all  quarters.  In  his  time 
it  was  governed  by  a-deputy  appointed  by  the  Narsinga,  or  Rajah  of 
Bijayanagar,  who  appears  to  have  retained  possession  of  a  great  part  of 
the  sea-coast  for  more  than  half  a  century  after  the  destruction  of  his 
capital  by  the  confederate  Mussulman  kings  of  the  Deccan  in  1565  ;  for 
in  1611,  when  Pulicat  was  visited  by  Captain  Anthony  Hippon,  being 
the  seventh  voyage  set  forth  by  the  East  India  Company,  the  administra- 
tion was  in  the  hands  of  "  the  Governess  Konda  Maa,  on  the  part  of 
Wankapati  Raja,  king  of  Narsinga."  (Greene's  Collection,  vol.  i.  p. 
436.)  But  the  coast  to  the  north  of  Pulicat,  including  Masulipatam, 
became  tributary  to  Bijapur  during  the  reign  of  Muhammed  Shah 
Bhamani,  about  a.d.  1480,  and  formed  subsequently  a  part  of  the  king- 
dom of  Golconda,  including  Telingana,  which  in  Fitch's  time,  1583-91, 
was  ruled  by  "  Cutub  de  Iashah,"  (Muhammed  Kuli  Kutb  Shah,)  who 


This  district  is  one  of  immense  traffic  in  merchandize,  and 
especially  in  jewels,  for  they  come  here  from  Zailon  and 
from  Pego.  There  are  also  here  many  great  Moorish  mer- 
chants of  all  kinds  of  spices.  We  lodged  in  the  house  of  a 
Moorish  merchant,  and  we  told  him  where  we  came  from, 
and  that  we  had  many  corals  to  sell,  and  saffron,  and  much 
figured  velvet,  and  many  knives.  The  said  merchant,  under- 
standing that  we  had  this  kind  of  merchandize,  was  greatly 
pleased.  This  country  is  most  abundant  in  everything 
which  is  produced  in  India,  but  no  grain  grows  there.  They 
have  rice  here  in  great  abundance.  Their  laws,  manner  of 
living,  dress,  and  customs,  are  the  same  as  at  Calicut,  and 
they  are  a  warlike  people,  although  they  have  no  artillery. 
As  this  country  was  at  fierce  war  with  the  king  of  Tarnassari, 
we  could  not  remain  here  a  very  long  time.  But  after  re- 
maining here  a  few  clays  we  took  our  route  towards  the  city 
of  Tarnassari,  which  is  distant  a  thousand  miles  from  here. 
At  which  city  we  arrived  in  fourteen  days  by  sea. 

built  Bhajnugger,  which  name  he  afterwards  changed  to  Hydrabad. 
On  his  death,  which  occurred  in  1586,  there  appears  to  have  been  a 
break  in  the  Kutb-Shahi  dynasty,  for  Abdallah  Kutb  Shah,  who  became 
tributary  to  the  Emperor  Shah  Jehan,  did  not  commence  his  reign  till 
1611,  and  must  have  succeeded  "  Kotobara  of  Badaya  or  Lollongana 
[Bhajnugger  or  Telingana  1]  and  of  Masulipatam,"  who,  according  to 
Floris's  account,  died  on  the  20th  of  January  of  that  year  while  he  was 
with  Captain  Hippon  at  the  latter  place.  Abdallah  Kutb  Shah  still 
reigned  over  Golconda  and  Telingana  in  1639  (Mandelslo,  p.  289,)  but 
in  1672  it  was  incorporated  into  the  empire  of  Arungzib. 

I  infer  from  De  Faria  y  Souza  that  the  Portuguese  established  a  colony 
at  Pulicat  as  early  as  a.d.  1522,  but  I  do  not  find  the  name  in  the  list 
of  their  /oris  on  the  Coromandel  coast.  They  were  succeeded  in  1600 
by  the  Dutch,  who  built  a  fort  there  called  Geldria,  and  made  it  their 
chief  settlement  after  the  loss  of  Negapatam.  Pinkerton,  vol.  xi,  p. 
203  n. 


196  THE    TRAVELS    OF 



The  city  of  Tarnassari1  is  situated  near  to  the  sea :  it  is  a 

1  Dr.  Vincent,  in  his  Dissertation  on  the  Sequel  to  the  Periplus,  ap- 
peara  to  have  identified  this  town  with  Masulipatam  ;  or,  as  he  did  not 
find  the  name  in  the  modern  maps,  he  concluded  that  "  it  might  lie  be- 
tween Puleachat  and  Bengal."  The  inference  is  totally  inadmissible  ;  for 
in  the  first  place  Varthema  interposes  one  thousand  miles  between 
ruleachet  and  Tarnassari,  and  in  a  subsequent  chapter  makes  the  lat- 
ter seven  hundred  miles  from  Banghella  ;  whilst  the  distance  between 
Pulicat  and  Masulipatam  is  only  220,  and  between  Masulipatam  and 
the  mouths  of  the  Ganges  somewhat  under  500  miles.  Moreover,  the 
branch  of  the  Kistnah  runs  to  the  south  of  Masulipatam,  but  the  river  of 
Tarnassari  was  on  the  north  of  that  town.  The  fauna  and  flora  of  thecoun- 
try,  as  also  several  of  its  other  productions,  as  described  by  our  traveller, 
are  equally  irreconcilable  with  the  south  of  India  ;  whereas,  taking  his 
Tarnassari  to  be  identical  with  Tenasserim  on  the  eastern  coast  of  the 
ancient  kingdom  of  Siam,  and  of  which  at  the  time  it  formed  a  part,  these 
inconsistencies  disappear,  and  his  conjectural  distances  and  other  data 
are  approximately  correct.  The  only  point  which  I  have  been  unable 
to  clear  up,  either  from  a  want  of  historical  records  of  the  period,  or 
from  my  own  unacquaintance  with  them,  is  Varthema's  twice  repeated 
statement  that  there  was  continual  war  between  the  king  of  Tarnassari 
and  the  Narsinga,  with  the  latter  of  whom,  in  this  chapter,  he  couples 
the  king  of  Bamjhella. 

Like  Dr.  Vincent,  I  long  searched  in  vain  for  a  Tarnassari  on  the 
southern  coast  of  India,  but  ultimately  found  one  iu  Baldams's  map 
placed  some  distance  inland  on  the  south  side  of  the  branch  of  the 
Kistnah  which  debouches  at  Masulipatam.  As  he  gives  no  account  of 
the  place,  I  presume  that  he  borrowed  the  name  directly  from  Varthema, 
or  from  some  subsequent  geographers  who  drew  the  same  erroneous  infer- 
ence respecting  its  locality  as  Dr.  Vincent.  In  fact,  I  found  the  follow- 
ing description  of  the  town,  under  the  heading  of  "  Narsinga;  Reqnum" 
in  the  Geography  of  Io.  Ant.  Magino  Patavino,  printed  at  Bologna,  a.d. 
1597,  which  is  evidently  compiled  from  this  and  the  two  chapters  suc- 
ceeding the  next  of  Varthema's  narrative  : — "  Tarnassari  urbs  ad  hoc 
regnum  pertinet,  qua;  olim  proprium  agnoscebat  regem  idololatram,  val- 
<i('  potehtem,  qui  ail  bellum  mittere  solebat  centum  elephantes  armatos, 
et  centum  millia  milites,  turn  equites  turn  pedestres.  Incoloc  hujus 
urbis  uxores  suas  dellorandas  albicantis  coloris  hominibus  tradunt,  sive 
Chi  istianis,  sive  Mahuractanis  ;  qua)  quidem  uxores  ornataj  accomptre 
post  mariti  obitum  honoris  ac  fidelitatis   ergo  viva;  construuntur  una 


level  place  and  well  watered,  and  has  a  good  port,  that  is, 
a  river  on  the  side  towards  the  north.     The  king  of  the  city 

cum  viri  cadavere,  aliter  perpetua  infamise  nota  laborarent  :  quern 
morem  in  uuiverso  quoq;  Narsingce  regno  observant."  Geographic 
Universal  turn  Veteris  him  Novae  absolutissimum  Opzis,  etc.,  p.  258. 

As  far  as  I  know,  Varthenia's  is  the  first  authentic  account  which  we 
possess  of  the  province  of  Tenasserim,  with  the  exception  of  the  follow- 
ing brief  notice  by  Conti  about  a.d.  1440  : — "  Leaving  the  island  of 
Taprobane  [Sumatra],  he  arrived,  after  a  stormy  voyage  of  seventeen 
days,  at  the  city  of  Ternassari,  which  is  situated  on  the  mouth  of  a 
river  of  the  same  name.  The  land  around  abounds  in  elephants  and 
produces  much  brazil-wood."  (Ramusio,  vol.  i,  p.  339.)  Barbosa,  a  few 
years  after  our  traveller,  gives  us  some  additional  particulars  respecting 
its  government,  from  which  we  learn  that  it  was  then  a  province  of 
Siain,  but  ruled  by  an  almost  independent  viceroy  : — "  Immediately  on 
leaving  the  kingdom  of  Pegu,  there  is  another  called  Ternassari,  where 
are  many  Moorish  and  Gentile  merchants,  who  trade  in  all  kinds  of 
wares.  They  have  vessels  with  which  they  navigate  towards  Bengala, 
and  Malaca,  and  other  parts.  Very  excellent  benzoin,  which  is  the  juice 
of  certain  trees,  is  grown  in  the  interior,  and  the  Moors  call  it  lubaniabi 
\luban  Jdwi,  Java  frankincense  ?].  In  this  port  of  Ternassari  there  are 
many  Moors  from  different  parts."  And  in  the  Summary  of  Kingdoms 
we  read  : — "  The  Siamese  trade  on  the  Tenacerim  side  with  Pacem,  Pedir, 
Queda,  Pegu,  Bengala,  and  Guzerat.  The  king  [of  Siam]  is  called  Per- 
choara,  which  means  the  lord  of  all.  With  the  king  is  Aiam  Campetit, 
who  is  viceroy  on  the  side  of  Pegu,  and  makes  war  with  Brema  [Burmah] 
and  Iamgoma...The  second,  who  is  viceroy  of  Longor,  is  called  Peraia... 
The  other  is  the  Ala  Chatoteri,  who  is  the  viceroy  on  the  side  of  Queda 
and  Tenacerin  :  he  is  a  chief  person,  and  has  power  over  all.  He  is 
perpetual  captain  of  Tenacerin,  is  lord  over  many  people,  and  of  a  coun- 
try abounding  in  all  kinds  of  provisions."  {Ramusio,  vol.  i.  p.  330.)  Ralph 
Fitch,  a.d.  1583-91,  merely  mentions  that  he  passed  by  Tenasseri  on  his 
way  from  Pegu  to  Malacca.  In  1600,  Master  John  Davis  touched  at  "  the 
city  of  Tanassartn,"  which  he  styles  "  a  place  of  great  trade."  (Greene, 
vol.  i.  p.  261.)  He  was  followed  in  1612  by  Captain  John  Floris,  who 
states  that  it  was  then  tributary  to  Pegu,  (Id.  p.  439,)  by  which  power 
the  province  had  been  conquered  in  1568,  but  was  recovered  by  the 
black  king  of  Siam,  aided  by  the  Portuguese,  in  1603.  (Mod.  Univ. 
History,  vol.  vi.  p.  259.)  Purchas  records  that  "  in  the  year  1606  Bal- 
thasar  Sequerius,  a  Jesuit,  land'mgtit  Tanassery,  passed  from  thence,partly 
by  good  rivers,  partly  over  cragged  and  rough  hills  and  forests  stored 
with  rhinoceros,  elephants,  and  tigers,  into  Odia"  [the  capital  of  Siam.] 
(Vol.  i.  p.  491.)     Master  William  Methold,  about  a.d.  1619,  describes 

198  THE    TRAVELS    OF 

is  a  Pagan,  and  is  a  very  powerful  lord.  He  is  constantly 
fighting  with  the  king  of  Narsinga  and  the  king  of  Ban- 
ghella.  He  has  a  hundred  armed  elephants,  which  are  larger 
than  any  I  ever  saw.  He  always  maintains  100,000  men 
for  war,  part  infantry  and  part  cavalry.  Their  arms  consist 
of  small  swords  and  some  sort  of  shields,  some  of  which  are 
made  of  tortoise-shell,  and  some  like  those  of  Calicut;  and 
they  have  a  great  quantity  of  bows,  and  lances  of  cane,  and 
some  also  of  wood.  When  they  go  to  war  they  wear  a  dress 
stuffed  very  full  of  cotton.  The  houses  of  this  city  are  well 
surrounded  by  walls.  Its  situation  is  extremely  good,  after 
the  manner  of  Christians,  and  good  grain  and  cotton  also 
grow  there.     Silk  is  also  made  there  in  large  quantities.1    A 

the  province  as  follows  : — "  Tanassery  lyeth  next  to  Pegu,  a  small  king- 
dom and  tributary  to  Syam,  from  which  place  this  is  but  the  port,  and 
that  only  to  the  inhabitants  of  this  gulf  [Bengal  ;]  for  we  find  a  way 
with  our  shipping  into  the  river  of  Syara."  {Id.  vol.  v.  p.  993.)  Man- 
delslo,  twenty  years  later,  reckons  Tanacerim  among  the  principal 
tributary  cities  of  Siam.  (  Voyages,  p.  334.)  The  English  had  a  factory 
at  Mergui  on  the  Tenasseritn  river  about  this  time,  but  in  1687  the 
settlers  were  nearly  all  massacred  by  the  Siamese.  (See  Pinkerton, 
vol.  viii.  p.  429-30.)  Turpin  describes  the  province  in  1770  as  producing 
"an  abundance  of  rice  and  excellent  fruits.  It  is  in  its  safe  and  com- 
modious port  that  vessels  of  all  nations  arrive,  and  the  people  find  more 
means  of  subsisting  there  than  in  the  other  parts  of  the  kingdom."  {Id. 
vol.  ix.  p.  578.)  From  that  period,  however,  Teuasserim  appears  to  have 
declined  in  importance,  chiefly  by  the  removal  of  its  trade  to  Mergui. 
{Mod.  Univ.  Hist.,  vol.  vi.  p.  267.)  In  1793  the  entire  province  was  ceded 
to  Ava,  and  in  1826  it  became  a  British  possession  by  the  Treaty  of  Yan- 
daboo.  The  old  town  is  now  a  place  of  no  importance,  containing  only 
one  hundred  houses  and  four  hundred  inhabitants.  It  is  situate  on  the 
river  of  the  same  name,  at  the  confluence  of  the  Little  Tenasseritn.  The 
river  is  navigable  up  to  the  town  for  vessels  of  one  hundred  and  twenty 
tons  burthen.  The  town  was  once  surrounded  by  a  brick  wall,  which  is 
now  so  much  in  ruins  that  its  remains  can  be  traced  only  at  intervals." 
The  trade  of  the  province  is  as  yet  comparatively  insignificant,  but  the 
population,  since  the  British  domination,  has  increased  from  90,000  to 
191,476.     See  Thornton's  Gazetteer. 

1  "  Cotton  is  grown  to  a  small  extent  in  the  province  of  Tenasserim, 
but  it  is  not  indigenous,  and  was  probably  introduced  from  the  continent 


great  deal  of  brazil-wood  is  found  there,  fruits  in  great 
abundance,  and  some  which  resemble  our  apples  and  pears, 
some  oranges,  lemons,  and  citrons,  and  gourds  in  great 
abundance.1  And  here  are  seen  very  beautiful  gardens,  with 
many  delicate  things  in  them. 


In  this  country  of  Tarnassari  there  are  oxen,  cows,  sheep, 
and  goats  in  great  quantities,2  wild  hogs,  stags,  roebucks, 
wolves,  cats  which  produce  the  civet,  lions,  peacocks  in 
great  multitudes,  falcons,  goss-hawks,  white  parrots,  and  also 

of  India."  (Thornton's  Gazetteer?)  I  find  no  mention  of  silk  as  a  natu- 
ral production  of  the  country  ;  but  Yule  calls  it  "  the  staple  of  the 
import  trade"  into  Burraah,  "  and  is  said  to  come  from  a  city  called 
Tsa-ckoe-Sing,  eighty-three  days'  journey  from  Bamo,  and  fifty  days 
beyond  the  city  of  Yunan."  He  estimates  the  value  of  silk  imported  in 
1854  at  ,£120,000,  and  states  that  the  weaving  of  the  raw  material  gives 
employment  to  a  large  body  of  the  population. ""(JYar  rat  ive  of  a  Mission 
to  the  Court  of  Ava,  pp.  149-53.)  Varthema  probably  alludes  to  this 
manufacture,  for  he  does  not  say  that  the  country  produces  silk,  but 
merely  "  se  fa  quivi  seta  in  grandissima  quantita." 

1  "  The  fruits  are  the  pineapple,  mango,  orange,  shaddock,  lime,  citron, 
melon,  gourd,  guava,  and  darian."     Thornton's  Gazetteer. 

2  Captain  Low,  writing  of  the  provinces  of  Tenasserim  and  Mergui, 
says  :  "goats  are  scarce,  and  there  are  no  sheep  !"  In  like  manner, 
Ctesar  Fredericke,  sixty  years  after  Varthema,  states  that  at  all  the 
villages  on  his  route  "  hennes,  pigeons,  eggs,  milk,  rice,  and  other 
things,  be  very  good  and  cheape  ;"  whereon  Colonel  Yule  remarks  : — 
"a  very  different  state  of  things  from  the  present,  when  our  hungry 

purveyors  complain  that  they  can  get  neither  '  hennes'  nor  eggs,  let 
alone  '  other  things,'  for  love  or  money."  Allowing  for  exaggeration 
in  the  accounts  of  the  old  travellers,  it  seems  evident  that  the  agricul- 
tural and  other  productions  of  Pegu,  as  well  as  its  population  and  trade, 
have  greatly  fallen  off  since  their  time,  the  consequence,  doubtless,  of 
the  intestine  aui  foreign  wars  which  for  upwards  of  a  century  subse- 
quent to  their  visits  devastated  the  country,  and  of  the  misrule  which 
succeeded.     See  Narrative  of  a  Mission  to  the  Court  of  Ava,  pp.  211-2. 

200  THE    TRAVELS    OF 

other  kinds  which  are  of  seven  very  beautiful  colours.  Here 
there  arc  hares  and  partridges,  but  not  like  ours.  There  is 
also  here  another  kind  of  bird,  one  of  prey,  much  larger 
than  an  eagle,  of  the  beak  of  which,  that' is,  of  the  upper 
part,  they  make  sword-hilts,  which  beak  is  yellow  and  red, 
a  thing  very  beautiful  to  behold.  The  colour  of  the  said 
bird  is  black,  red,  and  some  feathers  are  white.1  There  are 
produced  here  hens  and  cocks,  the  largest  I  ever  saw,  so 
much  so  that  one  of  these  hens  is  larger  than  three  of  ours. 
In  this  country  in  a  few  days  we  had  great  pleasure  from 
some  things  which  we  saw,  and  especially  that  every  day  in 
the  street  where  the  Moorish  merchants  abide  they  make 
some  cocks  fight,  and  the  owners  of  these  cocks  bet  as  much 
as  a  hundred  ducats  on  the  one  which  will  fight  best.  And. 
we  saw  two  fight  for  five  hours  continuously,  so  that  at  the 
last  both  remained  dead.2  Here  also  is  a  sort  of  goat,  much 
larger  than  ours,  and  which  is  much  more  handsome,  and 
which  always  has  four  kids  at  a  birth.  Ten  and  twelve 
large  and  good  sheep  are  sold  here  for  a  ducat.  And  there 
is  another  kind  of  sheep,  which  has  horns  like  a  deer  :3  these 

1  I  am  indebted  to  the  kindness  of  Professor  Owen  of  the  British 
Museum  for  the  following  interesting  note  : — "  This  coloured  bill  applies 
to  the  Helmet-Hornbill,  {Buceros  galeatus,)  of  which  the  bowl  of  a 
jewelled  ladle,  for  sherbet,  which  was  sent  from  Constantinople  for  my 
inspection,  was  formed.  The  tradition  of  this  sherbet-ladle,  which  is 
part  of  the  crown-jewels  of  the  Sultan,  is  that  the  bowl  was  made  from 
the  beak  of  the  Phoenix.  Buceros  galeatus,  however,  is  not  known  to 
exist,  as  an  indigenous  bird,  out  of  the  islands  of  the  Indian  Archipelago. 
Its  plumage  agrees,  in  a  general  way,  with  that  ascribed  to  a  bird  with 
the  parti-coloured  bill  in  the  text." 

2  According  to  Turpin,  "  cock-fighting  in  Siam  attracts  multitudes, 
as  the  field  is  always  stained  by  the  death  of  one  of  the  combatants." 
(Pxnkerton,  vol.  ix.  p.  598.)  Low  also,  in  his  History  of  Tenasserim, 
says  :  "  they  fight  cocks  with  artificial  spurs,  but  these  are  generally 
made  of  bone,  or  of  an  alligator's  tooth,  or  even  of  a  human  bone,  if  the 
parties  are  of  royal  extraction,  and  so  shaped  as  to  resemble  the  natural 
spur."     Journal  of  the  Royal  Asiatic  Society,  vol.  ii.  p.  272. 

3  "  More  probably  like  an  ox.  It  may  refer  to  the  huge  horns  of  the 
male  of  Ovis  amnion,"     Professor  Owek. 


are  larger  than  ours,  and  fight  most  terribly.  There  are 
bufifalos  here,  much  more  misshapen  than  ours.  There  are 
also  great  numbers  of  fish  like  ours.  1  saw  here,  however, 
a  bone  of  a  fish  which  weighed  more  than  ten  cantari.1 
With  respect  to  the  manner  of  living  of  this  city,  the  Pagans 
eat  all  kinds  of  flesh  excepting  that  of  oxen,2  and  they  eat  on 
the  ground,  without  a  cloth,  in  some  very  beautiful  vessels  of 
wood.  Their  drink  is  water,  sweetened  where  possible. 
They  sleep  high  from  the  ground,  in  good  beds  of  cotton, 
and  covered  with  silk  or  cotton.  Then,  as  to  their  dress, 
they  go  alia  apostolical  with  a  quilted  cloth  of  cotton  or  silk. 
Some  merchants  wear  very  beautiful  shirts  of  silk  or  cotton  : 
in  general,  they  do  not  wear  anything  on  their  feet,  except- 
ing the  Brahmins,  who  also  wear  on  the  head  a  cap  of  silk 
or  camelot,  which  is  two  spans  long.  In  the  said  cap  they 
wear  on  the  top  a  thing  made  like  a  hazel-nut,  which  is 
worked  all  round  in  gold.  They  also  wear  two  strings  of 
silk,  more  than  two  fingers  wide,  which  they  hang  round 
the  neck.  They  wear  their  ears  full  of  jewels  and  none  on 
their  fingers.4    The  colour  of  the   said  race  is  semi-white, 

1  Turpin  says  :  "  The  rivers  and  sea  coasts  of  this  kingdom  [Siain] 
abound  more  with  fish  than  elsewhere  :  the  reason  doubtless  is,  because 
the  rivers  for  six  months  in  the  year  overflow  the  sown  grounds,  and 
then  the  fish  find  plenty  of  food,  and  do  not  prey  on  one  another."  (Pin- 
kerton,  vol.  ix.  p.  632.)  The  bone  which  Varthema  describes  may  have 
been  that  of  a  stray  whale,  as,  according  to  Crawfurd,  whales  are  only 
found  in  this  region  on  the  shores  of  some  of  the  more  easterly  islands 
of  the  Archipelago.  The  Italian  cantaro  varies  in  different  provinces 
and  according  to  the  article  weighed.  Its  average  is  about  a  cwt. 

2  "  The  people  live  on  rice,  fish,  venison,  pork,  and  in  general  on  the 
flesh  of  almost  every  sort  of  animal  and  reptile  ;  but  they  seldom  use 
beef  or  poultry,  and  do  not  make  butter."  Journ.  of  R.  A.  Soc,  vol.  ii. 
p.  266. 

3  See  note  on  p.  112  ante. 

4  A  similar  dress  is  described  by  Colonel  Symes  as  worn  by  the  Bur- 
mese gentry  : — "  It  consists  of  a  long  robe,  either  of  flowered  satin  or 
velvet,  reaching  to  the  ancles,  with  an  open  collar  and  loose  sleeves  ; 

'102  '1  il  i;    TRAVELS    OF 

because   the  air  here  is  cooler  than  it  is  in  Calicut,  and  the 
seasons  are  the  same  as  with  us,  and  also  the  harvests.1 




The  king  of  the  said  city  does  not  cause  his  wife's  vir- 
ginity to  be  taken  by  the  Brahmins  as  the  king  of  Calicut 
does,  but  he  causes  her  to  be  deflowered  by  white  men, 
whether  Christians  or  Moors,  provided  they  be  not  Pagans. 
Which  Pagans  also,  before  they  conduct  their  wives  to  their 
house,  find  a  white  man,  of  whatever  country  he  may  be, 
and  take  him  to  their  house  for  this  particular  purpose,  to 
make  him  deflower  the  wife.  And  this  happened  to  us  when 
we  arrived  in  the  said  city.  We  met  by  chance  three  or 
four  merchants,  who  began  to  speak  to  my  companion  in 
this  wise  :  "  Langalli  ni  pardesi,"  that  is,  "  Friend,  are  you 
strangers  ?"  He  answered  :  "  Yes."  Said  the  merchants  : 
"  Ethera  nali  ni  banno,"  that  is,  "  How  many  days  have 
you  been  in  this  country  ?"  We  replied  :  "  Mun  nal  gnad 
banno,"  that  is,  "  It  is  four  days  since  we  arrived."  Another 

over  this  there  is  a  scarf,  or  flowing  mantle,  that  hangs  from  the 
shoulders  ;  and  on  their  heads  they  wear  high  caps  made  of  velvet, 
either  plain  or  of  silk  embroidered  with  flowers  of  gold,  according  to  the 
rank  of  the  wearer.  Earrings  are  a  part  of  male  dress  :  persons  of  con- 
dition use  tubes  of  gold  about  three  inches  long,  and  as  thick  as  a 
large  quill,  which  expands  at  one  end  like  the  mouth  of  a  speaking- 
trumpet  ;  others  wear  a  heavy  mass  of  gold  beaten  into  a  plate,  and 
rolled  up  ;  this  lump  of  metal  forms  a  large  orifice  in  the  lobe  of  the 
ear,  and  drags  it  down  by  the  weight,  to  the  extent  sometimes  of  two 
inches."     Pinkerton,  vol.  ix.  p.  496. 

1  "  The  natives  on  the  coast  divide  the  year  into  three  seasons,  viz.,  the 
hot,  the  rainy,  and  the  cold  ;  the  temperature,  however,  hardly  varies 
sufficiently  to  justify  the  adoption  of  this  division.  Tiiornto.v's  Ga- 


one  of  the  said  merchants  said  :  "  Biti  banno  gnan  piga- 
manathon  ondo,"  that  is,  "  Come  to  my  house,  for  we  arc 
great  friends  of  strangers;"  and  we,  hearing  this,  went 
with  him.  When  we  had  arrived  at  his  house,  he  gave  us  a 
collation,  and  then  he  said  to  us  :  "  My  friends,  Patanci 
nale  banno  gnan  penna  periti  in  penna  orangono  panna 
panni  cortu,"  that  is,  "  Fifteen  days  hence  I  wish  to  bring 
home  my  wife,  and  one  of  you  shall  sleep  with  her  the  first 
night,  and  shall  deflower  her  for  me."  We  remained  quite 
ashamed  at  hearing  such  a  thing.  Then  our  interpreter  said: 
"  Do  not  be  ashamed,  for  this  is  the  custom  of  the  country." 
Then  my  companion  hearing  this  said  :  "  Let  them  not  do 
us  any  other  mischief,  for  we  will  satisfy  you  in  this  ;"  but 
we  thought  that  they  were  mocking  us.  The  merchant  saw 
that  we  remained  undecided,  and  said:  "  O  langal  limaran- 
conia  ille  ocha  manezar  irichenu,"  that  is,  "  Do  not  be  dis- 
pirited, for  all  this  country  follows  this  custom."  Finding 
at  last  that  such  was  the  custom  in  all  this  country,  as  one 
who  was  in  our  company  affirmed  to  us,  and  said  that  we 
need  have  no  fear,  my  companion  said  to  the  merchant  that 
he  was  content  to  go  through  this  fatigue.  The  merchant 
then  said  :  "  I  wish  you  to  remain  in  my  house,  and  that 
you,  your  companions  and  goods,  be  lodged  here  with  me 
until  I  bring  the  lady  home."  Finally,  after  refusing,  we 
were  obliged  to  yield  to  his  caresses,  and  all  of  us,  five  in 
number,  together  with  all  our  things,  were  lodged  in  his 
house.  Fifteen  days  from  that  time  this  merchant  brought 
home  his  wife,  and  my  companion  slept  with  her  the  first 
night.  She  was  a  young  girl  of  fifteen  years,  and  he  did  for 
the  merchant  all  that  he  had  asked  of  him.  But  after  the 
first  night,  it  would  have  been  at  the  peril  of  his  life  if  he 
had  returned  again,  although  truly  the  lady  would  have 
desired  that  the  first  night  had  lasted  a  month.  The  mer- 
chants, having  received  such  a  service  from  some  of  us, 
would  gladly  have  retained  us  four  or  five  months  at  their 

204  THE    TRAVELS    OF 

own  expense,  for  all  kinds  of  wares  cost  very  little  money, 

and  also  because  they  are  most  liberal  and  very  agreeable 


All  the  Brahmins  and  the  king  are  burnt  after  death,  and 
at  that  time  a  solemn  sacrifice  is  made  to  the  devil.  And 
-then  they  preserve  the  ashes  in  certain  vases  made  of  baked 
earth,  vitrified  like  glass,  which  vases  have  the  mouth  nar- 
row like  a  small  scutella.2  They  then  bury  this  vase  with 
the  ashes  of  the  burnt  body  within  their  houses.  When 
they  make  the  said  sacrifice,  they  make  it  under  some  trees, 

1  I  find  nothing  to  confirm  the  flagrant  profligacy  described  in  this 
chapter,  either  as  regards  Tenasserim  or  Siam  ;  on  the  contrary,  Turpin 
states  that  "  the  nuptial  couch  is  seldom  polluted  by  adultery... There  is 
a  whimsical  custom,  however,  which  deranges  all  matrimonial  agree- 
ments. Sometimes  the  monarch  bestows  a  wife,  of  whom  he  is  tired,  on 
one  of  his  favourites  :  it  is  a  flattering  distinction,  which  often  con- 
strains the  inclination."  (Pinkerton,  vol.  ix.  p.  585.)  Nevertheless, 
revolting  as  the  custom  must  appear  to  us,  and  difficult  as  it  may  be 
to  account  for  so  strange  an  illustration  of  human  depravity,  I  see  no 
reason  to  doubt  the  veracity  of  Varthema's  narrative,  more  especially  as 
Richard  describes  a  similar  usage  as  prevailing  in  the  neighbouring 
country  of  Aracan  : — "  Virginity  is  not  an  esteemed  virtue  with  them. 
Husbands  prefer  running  the  risk  of  fathering  the  children  of  others, 
rather  than  marry  a  novice.  It  is  generally  Dutch  sailors,  who  are 
liberally  paid  for  this  infamous  prostitution."     Id.  pp.  760-1. 

The  colloquy  between  Varthema's  party  and  the  Tenasserim  mer- 
chants was  carried  on  through  an  interpreter,  who  appears  to  have 
communicated  with  the  former  in  a  corrupt  Malayalim,  as  the  specimens 
of  the  native  dialect  introduced  bear  a  close  affinity  to  those  given  in 
one  of  the  preceding  chapters  on  Calicut. 

a  Or  scodella.  This  word,  which  is  nearly  obsolete  except  in  some  of 
the  Italian  dialects,  signifies  a  bowl  or  basin,  and  according  to  Alberti 
is  a  diminutive  form  of  scudo,  a  shield.  Not  an  inappropriate  name  for 
the  chatties  common  throughout  India,  the  lower  part  of  which  is  round 
and  convex.     The  upper  part  is  generally  drawn  into  a  narrow  mouth. 

I.UDOVICO    1)1    VAUTHEMA.  205 

after  the  manner  of  Calicut.  And  for  burning  the  dead 
body  they  light  a  fire  of  the  most  odoriferous  things  that  can 
be  found,  such  as  aloes-wood,  benzoin,  sandal-wood,  brazil- 
wood,1 storax    and    amber,    incense,    and     some    beautiful 

1  In  the  original,  "  verzino  ;"  but  I  am  at  a  loss  to  account  for  the  ety- 
mology of  the  word.  It  cannot  be  a  corruption  of  "  Brazil,"  for  Conti  uses 
it  half  a  century  before  the  discovery  of  that  country  in  his  brief  descrip- 
tion of  Ternasseri : — "Tutto  il  paese  ch'e  al'intorno  ecopioso  dielephanti, 
e  vi  nasco  molto  verzino."  {Ramusio,  vol.  i.  p.  332.)  The  Latin  original  has 
verzano,  which  by  a  mistake,  such  as  the  most  careful  translators  some- 
times fall  into,  is  rendered  '•'  a  species  of  thrush"  in  the  translation  of 
De'  Conti's  travels  contained  in  India  in  the  Fifteenth  Century,  ii.  p.  9. 
The  wood  indicated  is  doubtless  the  Sappan,  (Ccesalpina  sap/pan,)  which 
abounds  in  this  quarter.  Mr.  O'Riley,  in  his  Vegetable  Products  of  the 
Tenasserim  Provinces,  writes : — "  For  many  years  past  a  trade  from  Mer- 
gui  to  Dacca  in  Sapan  wood  has  been  prosecuted  by  the  native  boats,  the 
article  being  obtained  from  the  Sapan- wood  forests  lying  near  the  fron- 
tier hills,  from  the  eastern  side  of  which  large  supplies  are  annually 
imported  through  Bangkok  into  Singapore.  It  is  also  found  throughout 
the  valley  of  the  Great  Tenasserim  river."  {Journal  of  the  Indian 
Archipelago,  vol.  iv.  p.  60.)  With  regard  to  the  dye-wood  in  question, 
Crawfurd  says  :  "  It  has,  like  many  indigenous  products,  a  distinct 
name  in  the  different  languages,  the  only  agreement,  and  this  not  per- 
fect, being  between  the  Malay  and  Javanese,  in  the  first  of  which  it  is 
called  Sdpang,  the  origin  of  the  European  commercial  and  scientific 
names,  and  in  Javanese  Sdchang.  In  one  language  of  the  true  Moluccas 
we  have  it  as  Samya,  and  in  another  as  Iioro,  while  in  Amboynese  it  is 
Lolan,  and  in  the  Tagala  of  the  Philippines  Sibukao"  {Dictionary  of  the 
Indian  Islands,  p.  376  ;)  and  I  may  add  that  the  Arabic  name  is  Bdhham. 
None  of  these,  however,  afford  any  clue  to  the  Italian  word  verzino.  If 
the  latter  has  any  relationship  with  the  term  "Brazil,"  is  it  not  possible 
that  that  name  was  a  corruption  of  the  earlier  verzino,  and  was  given  to 
the  country  so  called  on  account  of  the  quantity  of  Sappan-wood  found 
there  1 

Since  writing  the  above,  I  have  lighted  on  the  following  interesting 
note  by  Mr.  J.  Winter  Jones,  which  places  the  subject  beyond  dispute  : 
— "The  name  given  to  this  country  [Brazil]  by  the  discoverers  was 
Santa  Cruz,  which  was  afterwards  changed  to  Brazil,  from  the  immense 
quantity  of  the  wood  so  called  found  there.  There  is  early  evidence  to 
prove  that  the  wood  gave  the  name  to  the  country  and  not  the  country 
to  the  wood.  The  following  passage  occurs  in  the  Liber  Radicum  of  the 
Rabbi  Kimchi,  a  Spaniard  who  lived  in  the  thirteenth  century  : — 
'Algummin  (2  Chron.  ix.  10)  alias  Almugim  (1   Kings,  x.  12  ;)  both 

206  THE    TRAVELS    OF 

branches  of  coral,1  which  things  the}-  place  upon  the  body, 
and  while  it  is  burning  all  the  instruments  of  the  city  are 
sounding.  In  like  manner,  fifteen  or  twenty  men,  dressed 
like  devils,  stand  there  and  make  great  rejoicing.  And  his 
wife  is  always  present,  making  most  exceedingly  great 
lamentations,  and  no  other  woman.  And  this  is  done  at  one 
or  two  o'clock  of  the  night.2 


In  this  city  of  Tarnassari,  when  fifteen  days  have  passed 
after  the  death  of  the  husband,  the  wife  makes  a  banquet  for 

stand  for  the  same,  and  in  common  language  it  is  called  Corallo  ;  but 
some  persons  declare  it  to  be  a  sort  of  wood  used  for  dying,  called  in 
Arabic,  Albakam,  and  in  common  language  Brazil.''''  Hakl.  Soc.  Pubs., 
Divers  Voyages  touching  the  Disc,  of  America,  p.  46,  n. 

1  Grampa  de  coralli.  "  Coral,  in  large  Branches,  five  and  six  Ryals 
the  Mallaya  Tael,"  is  enumerated  in  Captain  Saris's  list  among  the 
articles  most  vendible  in  the  Indian  Archipelago.  Greene,  vol.  i.  p.  503. 

2  Ferdinand  Mendez  Pinto,  (if  he  is  to  be  believed,)  witnessed  the 
funeral  of  the  king  of  Siam,  which  he  describes  as  follows  : — "  A  mighty 
great  pile  was  forthwith  erected,  made  of  sandal,  aloes,  calembas,  and 
benjamin  ;  on  the  which  the  body  of  the  deceased  king  being  laid,  fire 
was  put  to  it,  with  a  strange  ceremony  :  during  all  the  time  the  body 
was  a  burning,  the  people  did  nothing  but  wail  and  lament  beyond  all 
expression  ;  but  in  the  .end,  it  being  consumed  to  ashes,  they  put  them 
into  a  silver  shrine,  which  they  imbarqued  in  a  Laulea  very  richly 
equipped,  that  was  accompanied  with  forty  Seroos  full  of  Talagrepos, 
which  are  the  highest  dignity  of  their  Gentile  Priests,  and  a  great  num- 
ber of  other  vessels,  wherein  there  was  a  world  of  people... All  these 
vessels  got  to  land  at  a  Pagode,  called  Quiay  Poutor,  where  the  silver 
shrine,  in  which  the  king's  ashes  were,  was  placed."  ( Voyages  and  Ad- 
ventures, p.  276.)  Captain  Low  says  that  the  Burmans  and  Peguers  of 
the  Tenasserim  provinces  generally  burn  their  dead,  but  that  all  under 
fifteen  years  of  age  are  buried.  He  adds  :  "  The  body  of  the  high  priest 
also,  who  died  at  Martaban,  just  after  its  capture,  was  burned  in  the  way 
which  is  described  in  Symcs's  Ava."  Journal  of  the  R.  A.  Society,  vol. 
ii.  ]>. 


all  her  relations  and  all  those  of  her  husband.  And  then  they 
go  with  all  the  relations  to  the  place  where  the  husband  was 
burnt,  and  at  the  same  hour  of  the  night.  The  said  woman 
puts  on  all  her  jewels  and  other  objects  in  gold,  all  that  she 
possesses.  And  then  her  relations  cause  a  hole  to  be  made 
of  the  height  of  a  human  being,  and  around  the  hole  they 
put  four  or  five  canes,  around  which  they  place  a  silken 
cloth,  and  in  the  said  hole  they  make  a  fire  of  the  abovemen- 
tioned  things,  such  as  were  used  for  the  husband.  And 
then  the  said  wife,  when  the  feast  is  prepared,  eats  a  great 
deal  of  betel,  and  eats  so  much  that  she  loses  her  wits,  and 
the  instruments  of  the  city  are  constantly  sounding,  together 
with  the  abovementioned  men  clothed  like  devils,  who  carry 
fire  in  their  mouths,  as  I  have  already  told  you  in  Calicut. 
They  also  offer  a  sacrifice  to  Deumo.1  And  the  said  wife  goes 
many  times  up  and  down  that  place,  dancing  with  the  other 
women.  And  she  goes  many  times  to  the  said  men  clothed 
like  devils,  to  entreat  and  tell  them  to  pray  the  Deumo  that 
he  will  be  pleased  to  accept  her  as  his  own.  And  there  are 
always  present  here  a  great  many  women  who  are  her  rela- 
tions. Do  not  imagine,  however,  that  she  is  unwilling  to  do 
this  ;  she  even  imagines  that  she  shall  be  carried  forthwith 
into  heaven.  And  thus  running  violently  of  her  own  free 
will,  she  seizes  the  abovementioned  cloth  with  her  hands, 
and  throws  herself  into  the  midst  of  the  fire.  And  imme- 
diately her  relations  and  those  most  nearly  allied  to  her  fall 
upon  her  with  sticks  and  with  balls  of  pitch,  and  this  they 
do  only  that  she  may  die  the  sooner.  And  if  the  said  wife 
were  not  to  do  this,  she  would  be  held  in  like  estimation  as 
a  public  prostitute  is  among  us,  and  her  relations  would  put 
her  to  death.  When  such  an  event  takes  place  in  this 
country  the  king  is  always  present.  However,  those  who 
undergo  such  a  death  are  the  most  noble  of  the  land:   all,  in 

1  See  note  2  on  p.  137  ante. 

208  THE    TRAVELS    OF 

general,  do  not  do  thus.1  I  have  seen  in  this  city  of  Tar- 
nassari  another  custom,  somewhat  less  horrible  than  the 
beforementioned.  There  will  be  a  young  man  who  will 
speak  to  a  lady  of  love,  and  will  wish  to  give  her  to  un- 
derstand that  he  really  is  fond  of  her,  and  that  there  is 
nothing  he  would  not  do  for  her.  And,  discoursing  with  her 
in  this  wise,  he  will  take  a  piece  of  rag  well  saturated  with 
oil,  and  will  set  fire  to  it,  and  place  it  on  his  arm  on  the 
naked  flesh,  and  whilst  it  is  burning  he  will  stand  speaking 
with  that  lady,  not  caring  about  his  arm  being  burnt,  in 
order  to  show  that  he  loves  her,  and  that  for  her  he  is  willing 
to  do  every  great  thing.2 

1  It  would  appear  from  the  foregoing  narrative  that  the  practice  of 
Sati  at  Tenasserim  was  confined  to  a  particular  sect,  which  did  not 
include  the  royal  family  of  Siam  ;  for  Pinto  relates  that  the  widow  of 
the  king,  whose  funeral  he  describes,  subsequently  "  married  Uquum- 
cheniraa,  who  had  been  one  of  the  purveyors  of  her  house,  and  caused 
him  to  be  crowned  king  in  the  city  of  Odiaa,  the  eleventh  of  November, 
1545."      Voyages  and  Adventures,  p.  278. 

2  The  proof  by  fire,  in  default  of  written  or  testimonial  evidence,  ap- 
pears to  have  formed  part  of  the  judiciary  system  of  Siam  ;  but  I  have 
met  with  nothing  to  corroborate  its  use  in  the  wooing  of  Tenasserim 
lovers.  Captain  Low  describes  the  modern  ceremony  of  marriage, 
omitting  all  mention  of  the  fiery  ordeal  : — "  The  Elder  now  gives  the 
bride  a  nosegay,  and  makes  her  repeat  some  Bali  sentences,  first  directed 
to  her  father,  again  to  her  mother,  next  to  the  parents  of  the  bride- 
groom, and  lastly  to  her  husband.  The  bridegroom  goes  through  the 
same  ceremony,  beginning  with  his  parents  and  relatives,  but  does  not 
address  the  bride.  The  Elder  then  takes  the  flower  from  the  bride,  and 
places  it  on  the  wall  of  the  house  ;  she  takes  a  little  rolled-up  betel-leaf 
and  presents  it  to  the  bridegroom,  who  exchanges  the  flower  for  it.  They 
then  both  sit  on  one  mat,  the  bridegroom  on  the  right  ;  a  feast  ensues, 
and  they  finish  the  ceremonies  by  eating  out  of  the  same  dish."  Journ. 
Roy.  As.  Soc,  vol.  ii.  p.  270. 



He  who  kills  another  in  this  country  is  put  to  death,  the 
same  as  in  Calicut.1  With  respect  to  conveying-  and  holding, 
it  is  necessary  that  it  should  appear  by  writing  or  by  wit- 
nesses. Their  writing  is  on  paper  like  ours,  not  on  the 
leaves  of  a  tree  like  that  of  Calicut.  And  then  they  go  to 
a  governor  of  the  city,  who  administers  justice  for  them 
summarily.  However,  when  any  foreign  merchant  dies  who 
has  no  wife  or  children,  he  cannot  leave  his  property  to 
whomsoever  he  pleases,  because  the  king  wills  to  be  his 
heir.  And  in  this  country,  that  is,  the  natives,  commencing 
from  the  king,  after  his  death  his  son  remains  king.2  And 
when  any  Moorish  merchant  dies,  very  great  expense  is  in- 
curred in  odoriferous  substances  to  preserve  the  body,  which 
they  put  into  wooden  boxes  and  then  bury  it,  placing  the 
head  towards  the  city  of  Mecca,  which  comes  to  be  towards 
the  north.3  If  the  deceased  have  children,  they  are  his 

1  That  is,  by  impalement ;  see  p.  147  ante.  Turpin,  in  his  History  of 
Siam,  describes  the  horrible  process  as  follows  : — "  The  criminal  is  made 
to  lie  down  on  his  belly,  and  after  being  securely  tied,  a  stake  of  wood  is 
forced  up  his  fundament  by  the  blows  of  a  club,  and  it  is  driven  till  it 
comes  out,  either  through  the  stomach  or  through  the  shoulders  :  they 
afterwards  raise  this  stake,  and  fix  it  in  the  earth.  It  often  happens 
that  the  sufferer  dies  under  the  operation,  but  sometimes  the  stake 
passes  through  the  body  without  injuring  any  of  the  noble  parts,  and 
then  the  poor  wretch  endures  for  several  days  the  most  agonizing  tor- 
ments."     PlNKERTON,  Vol.  ix.  p.  594. 

a  I  infer  from  Pinto,  who  states  that  the  son  of  the  king,  whose  death 
he  records,  succeeded  his  father,  though  he  was  shortly  after  poisoned  by 
the  queen  mother,  that  the  sovereignty  of  Siam  was  hereditary.  The 
same  order  of  succession  probably  prevailed  as  regards  the  Viceroys  of 
the  principal  provinces.  See  note  on  p.  197  ante,  where  the  ruler  of  the 
dependency  of  Tenasserim  is  styled  "  perpetual  Captain." 

3  This  is  another  incidental  proof  that  Varthema's  Tarnassari  was  not 
on  the  coast  of  Bengal,  which  is  nearly  in  the  same  latitude  as  Meccah. 


210  THE    TRAVELS    OF 


These  people  make  use  of  very  large  ships  and  of  vari- 
ous kinds,  some  of  which  are  made  flat  bottomed,  because 
such  can  enter  into  places  where  there  is  not  much  water. 
Another  kind  are  made  with  prows  before  and  behind,  and 
they  carry  two  helms  and  two  masts,  and  are  uncovered. 
There  is  also  another  kind  of  large  ship  which  is  called 
Giunchi}  and  each  of  these  is  of  the  tonnage  of  one  thousand 
butts,  on  which  they  carry  some  little  vessels  to  a  city  called 
Melacha,2  and  from  thence  they  go  with  these  little  vessels 
for  small  spices  to  a  place  which  you  shall  know  when  the 
proper  time  comes. 


Let  us  return  to  my  companion,  for  he  and  I  had  a  desire 
to  see  farther  on.  After  we  had  been  some  days  in  this  said 
city,  and  being,  indeed,  tired  of  that  same  service  of  which 
you  have  heard  above,  and  having  sold  some  of  our  mer- 
chandise we  took  the  route  towards  the  city  of  BangheUa,3 

1  "  The  name  for  a  large  trading  vessel  in  Malay  and  Javanese  \sjung, 
which  the  Portugues'e  converted  into  junco,  and  we,  improving  on  this 
corruption,  into  junk."    Crawfurd's  Desc.  Diet,  of  the  Indian  Islands. 

-  Malacca. 

3  Goxir  was  undoubtedly  the  capital  of  Bengal  at  this  period,  but  it 
appears  that  the  name  of  the  province  was  very  commonly  applied  to 
the  city,  more  especially  by  foreigners.  The  following  is  from  Barbosa  : 
— "  Beyond  the  Ganges,  onward  towards  the  East,  is  the  kingdom  of 
Bengcda,  wherein  there  are  many  places  and  cities,  as  well  inland  as  on 
the  sea-coast.  Those  in  the  interior  are  inhabited  by  Gentiles,  who 
are  subject  to  the  king  of  Bcngala,  who  is  a  Moor  ;  and  the  stations  on 
the  coast  are  full  of  Moors  and  Gentiles,  among  whom  are  many  mer- 
chants and  traders  to  all  parts.  For  this  sea  forms  a  gulf  which  bends 
towards  the  north,  at  the  head  of  which  is  situated  a  great  city  inhabited 


which  is  distant  from  Tarnassari  seven  hundred  miles,  at 
which  we  arrived  in  eleven  days  by  sea.  This  city  was  one 
of  the  best  that  I  had  hitherto  seen,  and  has  a  very  great 
realm.  The  sultan  of  this  place  is  a  Moor,  and  maintains 
two  hundred  thousand  men  for  battle  on  foot  and  on  horse ; 
and  they  are  all  Mohammedans  ;  and  he  is  constantly  at  war 

by  Moors,  which  is  called  Bengala.'"  (Ramusio,  vol.  i.  p.  330.)  In  1537, 
during  the  viceroyalty  of  Nunno  de  Cunna,  when  the  Portuguese  first 
attempted  to  establish  a  fort  in  Bengal,  "  Goivro,  the  capital  city,  ex- 
tended three  leagues  in  length  along  the  Ganges,  and  contained 
1,200,000  families."  (Greene,  vol.  i.  p.  84.)  In  Ralph  Fitch's  time, 
1583-1591,  Tanda  appears  to  have  succeeded  Gour  as  the  capital  of  the 
kingdom,  which  had  then  become  tributary  to  the  Moghul  Emperor  : — 
"  From  Patanau  [Patna]  I  went  to  Tanda,  which  is  in  the  land  of 
Gouren.  It  hath  in  times  past  been  a  kingdom,  but  is  now  subdued  by 
Zelabdim  Echebar  [Jalal  ed-Din,  Akbar.]  Great  trade  and  traffic  is 
here  of  cotton  and  cloth  of  cotton... It  standeth  in  the  country  of  Ben- 
gala... Tanda  standeth  from  the  Ganges  a  league,  because  in  times  past 
the  river  flowing  over  the  banks  in  time  of  rain  drowned  the  country 
and  many  villages,  and  so  they  remain.  And  the  old  way  which  the 
river  Ganges  was  wont  to  run  remaineth  dry,  which  is  the  occasion  that 
the  city  standeth  so  far  from  the  water."  (Pinkerton,  ix.  p.  414.)  I 
conclude,  therefore,  that  Mandelslo  errs  in  enumerating  Bengal  as  a 
city  of  that  province  distinct  from  Gour  and  Tanda.  He  says :  "En  tirant 
vers  le  septentrional  on  trouve  le  royaume  de  Bengala,  qui  donne  le 
nom  au  golfe  que  les  anciens  appellent  Sinus  Gangeticus... On  trouve  plu- 
sieurs  belles  villes  dans  ce  royaume,  comme  sont  celles  de  Gouro,  d'Ougely, 
de  Chatigan,  de  Bengala,  de  Tanda,  de  Baca,  de  Patana,  de  Banares, 
d'Elabas,  et  de  Ragmehela."  (  Voyages,  p.  290.)  The  following  is  from 
Major  Rennell  on  this  subject  : — "  Gour,  called  also  Lucknouti,  the  an- 
cient capital  of  Bengal,  and  supposed  to  be  the  Gangia  regia  of  Ptolemy, 
stood  on  the  left  bank  of  the  Ganges,  about  twenty-five  miles  below  Ra- 
jemal.  It  was  the  capital  of  Bengal  730  years  B.C.,  and  was  repaired  and 
beautified  by  Homayoon,  who  gave  it  the  name  of  Jeunuteabad,  which 
name  a  part  of  the  circar,  in  which  it  was  situated,  still  bears.  Accord- 
ing to  Ferishta's  account,  the  unwholesomeness  of  its  air  occasioned  it  to 
be  deserted  soon  after,  and  the  seat  of  government  was  removed  to  Tan- 
dah  or  Tanrah,  a  few  miles  higher  up  the  river.  No  part  of  the  site  of 
ancient  Gour  is  nearer  to  the  present  bank  of  the  Ganges  than  four 
miles  and  a  half,  and  some  parts  of  it  which  were  regularly  washed  by 
that  river  are  now  twelve  miles  from  it."  Mem.  of  a  Map  of  Hindostan, 
quoted  in  Stewart's  Hist,  of  Bengal,  p.  44. 

212  THE    TRAVELS    OF 

with  the  king  of  Narsingha.1  This  country  abounds  more  in 
grain,  flesh  of  every  kind,  in  great  quantity  of  sugar,  also  of 
ginger,  and  of  great  abundance  of  cotton,  than  any  country 
in  the  world.  And  here  there  are  the  richest  merchants  I 
ever  met  with.  Fifty  ships  are  laden  every  year  in  this 
place  with  cotton  and  silk  stuffs,  which  stuffs  are  these,  that 
is  to  sav,  bairam,  namone,  lizati,  ciantar,  doazar,  and  sina- 
baff.  These  same  stuffs  go  through  all  Turkey,  through 
Syria,  through  Persia,  through  Arabia  Felix,  through 
Ethiopia,  and  through  all  India.2  There  are  also  here  very 
great  merchants  in  jewels,  which  come  from  other  countries. 


We  also  found  some  Christian  merchants  here.  They 
said  that  they  were  from  a  city  called  Sarnau,  and  had 
brought  for  sale  silken  stuffs,  and  aloes-wood,  and  benzoin, 
and  musk.  Which  Christians  said  that  in  their  country 
there  were  many  lords  also  Christians,  but  they  are  subject 
to  the  great  Khan  [of]  Cathai.3     As  to  the  dress   of  these 

1  I  have  failed  to  discover  any  historical  notices  confirmatory  of  this 
remark,  though  it  is  highly  probable  that  the  Sultans  of  Bengal  co- 
operated generally  with  the  Mussulman  powers  of  the  Deccan  at  this 
period  against  the  great  Brahminical  kingdom  of  Bijayanagar.  (See 
note  2,  on  p.  125  ante.)  The  reigning  sovereign  at  the  time  of  Varthe- 
ma's  visit  must  have  been  the  Patan  Sultan  'Ala  ed-Din  Husein  Shah 
bin  Seyyed  Ashraf. 

2  These  names  are  mostly  of  Arabic  or  Persian  derivation,  and  several 
of  them  are  still  in  use  among  the  Arabs,  while  similar  technical  terms, 
which  obtained  among  British  traders  in  the  time  of  Captain  Saris, 
such  as  Sayes,  Rashes,  Bozirats,  Caniant,  Juwart,  etc.,  have  disappeared 
from  our  modern  commercial  vocabulary.  In  Varthema's  sinabaff,  I 
recognize  Sina  baft,  China  woven-cloth. 

3  From  the  description  of  the  manners  of  these  Christians,  I  should 
have  inferred  that  they  were  Armenians,  but  as  they  wrote  contrary  to 
us,  that  is,  from  right  to  left,  they  were  most  probably  Nestorians.     (I 


Christians,  they  were  clothed  in  a  xebec1  made  with  folds, 
and  the  sleeves  were  quilted  with  cotton.  And  on  their 
heads  they  wore  a  cap  a  palm  and  a  half  long,  made  of  red 
cloth.  These  same  men  are  as  white  as  we  are,  and  confess 
that  they  are  Christians,  and  believe  in  the  Trinity,  and 
likewise  in  the  Twelve  Apostles,  in  the  four  Evangelists,  and 
they  also  have  baptism  with  water.  But  they  write  in  the 
contrary  way  to  us,  that  is,  after  the  manner  of  Armenia. 
And  they  say  that  they  keep  the  Nativity  and  the  Passion 
of  Christ,  and  observe  our  Lent  and  other  vigils  in  the 
course  of  the  year.  These  Christians  do  not  wear  shoes,  but 
they  wear  a  kind  of  breeches  made  of  silk,  similar  to  those 

need  hardly  remark  that  Varthema  is  wrong  in  stating  that  the  Arme- 
nians write  in  that  way,  for  they  write  as  we  do  from  left  to  right.) 
Assernanni,  indeed,  concludes  that  all  the  Christians  formerly  in  Tartary 
and  China  were  Nestorians,  quoting  Marco  Polo,  among  others,  as  his 
authority  : — "  Christianos  in  Sinarum  regno  Nestorianos  fuisse,  non 
Armenios,  neque  ex  Armenia,  sed  partiin  ex  Assyria  et  Mesopotamia, 
partim  ex  Sogdiana,  Bactriana  et  India  illuc  convolasse,  eo  maxime 
tempore,  quo  Tartari  in  illud  regnum  invaserunt,  ipse  Marcus  Paulus 
Venetus,  qui  a  Trigautio  citatur,  pluribus  in  locis  aifirmat,  ubi  quoties 
Christianorum  in  Sinis  meminit,  eos  Nestorianos  vocat."  The  same 
author  defines  the  limits  of  the  ancient  kingdom  of  Cathay  as  follows : — 
"  Cataja  Sinam  borealem  significat,  quam  orientalis  SinEe  nomine  ap- 
pellant :  habet  autem  Turchestanam  ad  occasum  ;  Sinam  ad  austrum  ; 
terrain  et  mare  Esonis,  vulgd  de  Jesso,  ad  ortum  ;  et  Tartariam  veram 
ad  septentrionem.  Sericse  antiquoe  pars  est,  ut  ex  Ptoleinseo  scribit 
Cellarius  ;"  but  I  have  perused  the  interesting  section  from  which  this 
quotation  is  made,  (Biblioth.  Orient.,  vol.  iv.  §  vi.),  and  every  other  avail- 
able author  from  Marco  Polo  downwards,  without  discovering  any  clue 
to  Varthema's  city  of  Sarnau.  The  only  additional  information  which 
his  book  affords  respecting  its  locality  is  given  in  a  subsequeut  chapter, 
and  while  he  was  at  Sumatra,  from  which  island  his  Christian  com- 
panions told  him  it  was  3,000  miles  distant. 

I  note,  as  a  mere  coincidence,  that  Ferdinand  Mendez  Pinto  designates 
the  kingdom  of  Siam  "The  Empire  of  Sornau."  {Voyages  and  Ad- 
ventures, p.  284.)  Whether  he  had  any  better  authority  than  that  of 
his  own  fertile  imagination  for  the  name,  I  cannot  say  ;  but  I  do  not 
find  it  applied  to  that  country  by  any  other  author.  Gasparo  Balbi 
and  some  of  the  early  Portuguese  writers  calls  it  "  Silon." 

1  A  jerkin. 

214  THE    TRAVELS    OF 

worn  by  mariners,  which  breeches  are  all  full  of  jewels,  and 
their  heads  are  covered  with  jewels.  And  they  eat  at  a  table 
after  our  fashion,  and  they  eat  every  kind  of  flesh.  These 
people  also  said  that  they  knew  that  on  the  confines  of  the 
Rumi,  that  is,  of  the  Grand  Turk,  there  arc  very  great 
Christian  kings.  After  a  great  deal  of  conversation  with 
these  men,  my  companion  at  last  showed  them  his  merchan- 
dise, amongst  which  there  were  certain  beautiful  branches 
of  large  coral.  When  they  had  seen  these  branches  they 
said  to  us,  that  if  we  would  go  to  a  city  where  they  would 
conduct  us,  that  they  were  prepared  to  secure  for  us  as 
much  as  10,000  ducats  for  them,  or  as  many  rubies  as  in 
Turkey  would  be  worth  100,000. l  My  companion  replied 
that  he  was  well  pleased,  and  that  they  should  depart  imme- 
diately thence.  The  Christians  said :  "  In  two  days'  time 
from  this  a  ship  will  sail  which  goes  towards  Pego,  and  we 
have  to  go  with  it ;  if  you  are  willing  to  come  we  will  go 
together."  Hearing  this  we  set  ourselves  in  order,  and  em- 
barked with  the  said  Christians  and  with  some  other  Persian 
merchants.  And  as  we  had  been  informed  in  this  city  that 
these  Christians  were  most  faithful,  we  formed  a  very  great 
friendship  with  them.  But  before  our  departure  from 
Banghella,  we  sold  all  the  rest  of  the  merchandise,  with  the 
exception  of  the  corals,  the  saffron,  and  two  pieces  of  rose- 
coloured  cloth  of  Florence.  We  left  this  city,  which  I 
believe  is  the  best  in  the  world,  that  is,  for  living  in.  In 
which  city  the  kinds  of  stuffs  you  have  heard  of  before  are 
not  woven  by  women,  but  the  men  weave  them.  We  de- 
parted thence  with  the  said  Christians,  and  went  towards  a 
city  which  is  called  Pego,  distant  from  Banghella  about  a 
thousand  miles.  On  which  voyage  we  passed  a  gulf  towards 
the  south,  and  so  arrived  at  the  city  of  Pego. 

1  See  note  1  on  p.  206  ante. 



The  city  of  Pego  is  on  the  mainland,  and  is  near  to  the 
sea.     On  the  left  hand  of  this,  that  is,  towards  the  east,  there 

1  In  chapter  viii.  of  his  Narrative  of  a  Mission  to  the  Court  of  Ava, 
Colonel  Yule  has  arranged  in  chronological  order  a  valuable  collection 
of  Notes  on  the  Intercourse  of  the  Burmese  countries  with  Western  nations 
up  to  the  i)eace  of  Yandabo,  comprising  all  the  information  available  re- 
specting Pegu  and  the  adjacent  kingdoms  at  this  period.  These  notes, 
with  his  own  interspersed  commentary,  form  the  most  authentic  history  of 
those  kingdoms  extant,  and  the  four  sketch  maps  representing  the  his- 
torical geography  of  the  Burmese  countries  at  several  epochs,  convey  at 
a  glance  the  principal  political  and  territorial  changes  which  have  suc- 
cessively taken  place  in  that  empire  since  a.d.  1500.  With  regard  to 
the  map  illustrative  of  that  date,  I  perceive  that  Tavoy  is  apparently 
described  as  an  independent  state  embracing  the  entire  seabord  between 
the  tenth  and  fifteenth  degrees  of  latitude,  whereas  in  a  preceding  note 
on  pp.  197-8,  I  have  implied  that  Tenasserim,  which  is  included  within 
those  limits,  was  the  principal  kingdom  on  that  part  of  the  coast  at 
the  period  indicated,  but  subordinate,  nevertheless,  to  the  suzerainty  of 
Siam.  (Towards  the  end  of  that  century  Tenasserim  became  tributary 
to  Pegu,  and  a  few  years  later,  cir.  a.d.  1619,  judging  from  the  extract 
quoted  from  Master  William  Methold's  Relations  of  the  King  dome  of 
Golchonda,  and  other  Neighbouring  Nations  within  the  Gulf  of  Bengode, 
in  the  note  last  referred  to,  it  appears  to  have  reverted,  for  a  time  at 
least,  to  the  authority  of  Siam.)  I  notice  this  discrepancy  rather  by 
way  of  suggesting  a  doubt  as  to  the  correctness  of  my  own  inference, 
than  with  the  idea  of  questioning  the  accuracy  of  my  learned  friend 
Colonel  Yule. 

The  following  chapter  from  the  Geography  of  Patavino,  evidently 
compiled  from  the  travels  of  Nicolo  de'  Conti,  Varthema,  Ceesar  Frede- 
ricke,  and  the  best  authorities  who  succeeded  them,  contains  so  admira- 
ble an  account  of  Pegu  at  the  date  when  the  work  was  published  (1597), 
and  when  the  kingdom  was  at  the  zenith  of  its  glory,  that  I  deem  it 
worthy  of  quotation  in  full  : — "  PEGU  regnum  occupat  littoris  spatium 
300  milliarium  iuxta  Occidentalem  oram  sinus  Bengalici,  ab  urbe  scilicet 
Tauay  ad  caput  usque  Nigraes  ;  in  Mediterraneis  vero  valde  extenditur. 
Optimos  habet  portus,  ex  quibus  pra;cipuus  est  Martabane,  in  quo  one- 
rantur  circiter  40  naues  ex  oryza,  qute  in  insulam  Sumatram  compor- 
tantur.  Ager  huius  regni  pinguis  ac  fertilissimus  est,  et  rei  frumentarite 
ut  plurimum  admodum  accommodus  ;  animalia  innumera  nutrit,  inter 

21()  THE    TRAVELS    OF 

is  a  very  beautiful  river,  by  which  many  ships  go  and  come.1 
The  king  of  this  city  is  a  Pagan.  Their  faith,  customs, 
manner  of  living  and  dress,  are  after  the  manner  of  Tarnas- 
sari ;  but  with  respect  to  their  colour,  they  are  somewhat 
more  white.  And  here,  also,  the  air  is  somewhat  more  cold. 
Their  seasons  are  like  ours.     This  city  is  walled,    and  has 

qua;  sunt  equi  pusilli,  ad  ferendurn  tamen  idonei,  quorum  ingens  est 
numerus,  sicut  etiam  eliphantorum,  qui  in  altissimis  quibusdam  montibus 
capiuntur,  ac  ad  belli  usum  adseruantur.  Psittaci  etiam  vocaliores  quam 
usquam  alibi,  et  pulchriores  reperiuntur,  atque  etiam  feles,  qui  zibettum 
gignunt  :  arundines  hie  excrescunt  ad  crassitiem  unius  dolij  :  nascuntur 
quoque  hie  rubini.  Unde  regnum  ipsum  opulentissimum  est  et  merca- 
toribus  frequentissimum,  qui  commercijs  plurimum  operam  nauant,  et 
in  ipsis  portubus  plures  sunt  mercatores  Mauri  ac  gentiles.  Deferunt 
autem  ex  hoc  Regno  ad  Malacam  oryzam,  laccam,  beuzuinum,  museum, 
lapillos  preciosos,  argentum,  batyrum,  oleum,  sal,  cepas,  et  alia  huius 
generis  comestibilia  :  contra  vero  ex  Malaca  istuc  ferunt  porcellanas, 
colores,  argentum  vivum,  a?s,  cinnabarim,  Damascumrloribus  contextum, 
stannum,  et  alia.  Ciuitas  Regia  est  PEGU,  clarissima  totius  India;, 
moenibus  munita,  et  sedibus  elegantissimus  ornata,  qua;  a  mari  ciciter  25 
milliaribus  abest,  quam  fluuius  eiusdem  nominis  maximus  abluit,  qua; 
etiam  per  totum  regnum  percurrens  intumescit  interdum  aded,  ut  mag- 
num terra?  tradum  inundet  :  unde  ab  hoc  incola?  oryzam  copiosissiine 
colligunt.  Pra;ter  hanc  sunt  insignes  Tauay,  Martabane,  et  Losmin 
emporium  celebre.  Sunt  autem  Peguini  mediocris  statura;,  magis  ad 
crassitiem  accedentes,  agiles,  et  viribus  pra;diti,  ad  bellum  tamen  inepti  : 
nudi  incedunt  pra;ter  pudenda,  capita  tegunt  albicantis  pannis  ad  instar 
mitra; :  luxuria;  prasterea  valde  dediti  sunt,  qui  in  mulierum  gratiam  ad 
virile  membrum  tintinabula  aurea  vel  argentea  appensa  gestant  ut  sonum 
reddant  dum  per  ciuitatem  deambulant.  Sunt  verd  super  mortales 
omnes  superstitiosissimi,  et  vanissimas  habent  circa  religionem  opiniones, 
ac  ab  omni  veritate  alienas.  Rex  PEGU  multa  hodie  possidit  regna, 
nempe  Tangu,  Prom,  Melintay,  Calam,  Bacam,  Mvrandil,  Aica,  Brema 
[Burmah  ?]  ad  Septentrionem  exposita  ;  deinde  regnum  Siam,  et  portus 
Martabance  ac  Ternasseri,  et  Aracam,  ac  Mucin  regna  :  et  appellari 
quoque  consueuit  a  scriptoribus  nonnullis  Rex  Brema;,  seu  Barinse."  p. 

1  Symes  says  :  "  The  Pegue  river  is  called  by  the  natives  Bagoo 
Kioup,  or  Pegue  rivulet,  to  distinguish  it  from  Mioup,  or  river.  It  is 
navigable  but  a  very  few  miles  to  the  northward  of  the  city  of  Pegue, 
and  for  this  it  is  indebted  wholly  to  the  action  of  the  tide."  Pinker- 
ton,  vol.  ix.,  p.  446. 


good  houses  and  palaces  built  of  stone,  with  lime.1  The 
king  is  extremely  powerful  in  men,  both  foot  and  horse, 
and  has  with  him  more  than  a  thousand  Christians  of  the 
country  which  has  been  above  mentioned  to  you.2     And  he 

1  So  Ralph  Fitch  eighty  years  after  Varthema  :—  "  Pegu  is  a  city  very 
great,  strong,  and  very  fair,  with  walls  of  stone,  and  great  ditches  round 
about  it.  There  are  two  towns,  the  old  and  the  new.  In  the  old  town 
are  all  the  merchants  strangers,  and  very  many  merchants  of  the  coun- 
try. All  the  goods  are  sold  in  the  old  town,  which  is  very  great,  and 
hath  many  suburbs  round  about  it,  and  all  the  houses  are  made  of  canes, 
which  they  call  bambos,  and  are  covered  with  straw."  {Id.,  pp.  416-7.) 
Symes  says  :  "  The  extent  of  ancient  Pegue  may  still  be  accurately 
traced  by  the  ruins  of  the  ditch  and  wall  that  surrounded  it  :  from  this 
it  appears  to  have  been  a  quadrangle,  each  side  measuring  nearly  a  mile 
and  a  half.  In  several  places  the  ditch  is  filled  up  with  rubbish  that  has 
been  cast  into  it,  and  the  falling  of  its  own  banks  ;  sufficient,  however, 
still  remains  to  show  that  it  was  no  contemptible  defence."  He  de- 
scribes the  streets  of  the  new  town  as  well  paved  with  the  bricks  brought 
from  the  old  city,  but  all  the  houses  of  the  former  as  being  made  of 
mats,  or  sheathing  boards,  supported  on  bamboos  or  posts,  "  the  king 
having  prohibited  the  use  of  brick  or  stone  in  private  buildings,  from 
the  apprehension  that  if  people  got  leave  to  build  brick  houses,  they 
might  erect  brick  fortifications."     Id.,  pp.  436-8. 

2  We  have  Colonel  Yule's  authority  for  believing  that  Armenians, 
who  were  most  probably  petty  merchants  like  their  representatives  there 
at  the  present  day,  have  long  frequented  the  Burmese  court  and  capital ; 
but  the  existence  of  a  regiment  of  Armenians  or  Nestorians  in  the  service 
of  an  Indian  potentate  at  this  period  may  be  set  down  as  a  fable,  and  I 
read  of  no  native  Christians  in  Pegu  prior  to  the  advent  of  the  Portu- 
guese a  few  years  later.  Conti,  who  visited  several  parts  of  the  country 
in  1444,  states  that  the  people  turned  towards  the  East  every  morning, 
and  with  clasped  hands  said  :  "  God  in  Trinity  and  His  Law  defend  us  !" 
Varthema  probably  heard  that  a  similar  belief  was  professed  by  a  por- 
tion of  the  Pegu  army,  and  forthwith  christianized  them.  Yule  makes 
the  following  remark  on  the  Burmese  prayer  above  quoted  :  — "  This, 
which  at  first  sight  looks  like  fiction,  is  really  an  evidence  of  Conti's 
veracity.  He  had  doubtless  heard  of  the  '  Three  Precious  Ones,'  the 
Triad  of  Buddha,  Dharma,  and  Sang  a,  the  Buddha,  the  Law,  and  the 
Clergy."  And  he  adds  in  a  foot-note,  that  "  in  a  letter  which  the  King  of 
Ava  wrote  to  the  Governor-General  of  India,  in  1830,  his  majesty  speaks 
of  his  '  observing  the  three  objects  of  worship,  namely,  God,  his  Pre- 
cepts, and  his  Attendants  or  Priests.' "  Mission  to  the  Court  of  Ava, 
p.  208. 

218  THE    TRAVELS    OF 

gives  to  each,  for  pay,  six  golden pardai  per  month  and  his 
expenses.  In  this  country  there  is  a  great  abundance  of 
grain,  of  flesh  of  every  kind,  and  of  fruits  of  the  same  as  at 
Calicut.  These  people  have  not  many  elephants,  but  they 
possess  great  numbers  of  all  other  animals  ;  they  also  have 
all  the  kinds  of  birds  which  are  found  at  Calicut.  But  there 
are  here  the  most  beautiful  and  the  best  parrots  I  had  ever 
seen.  Timber  grows  here  in  great  quantities,  long,  and  I 
think  the  thickest  that  can  possibly  be  found.  In  like 
manner  I  do  not  know  if  there  can  be  found  in  the  world 
such  thick  canes  as  I  found  here,  of  which  I  saw  some  which 
were  really  as  thick  as  a  barrel.  Civet-cats  are  found  in 
this  country  in  great  numbers,  three  or  four  of  which  are 
sold  for  a  ducat.  The  sole  merchandise  of  these  people  is 
jewels,  that  is,  rubies,  which  come  from  another  city  called 
Capellan,1  which  is  distant  from  this  thirty  days' journey ;  not 
that  I  have  seen  it,  but  by  what  I  have  heard  from  mer- 
chants. You  must  know  that  in  the  said  city,  a  large 
pearl  and  diamond  are  worth  more  here  than  with  us,  and 
also  an  emerald.  When  we  arrived  in  this  country,  the 
king  was  fifteen  days'  journey  distant,  fighting  with  another 
who  was  called  king  of  Ava.2   Seeing  this,  we  determined  to 

1  Fitch  mentions  the  same  locality  : — "Caplan  is  the  place  where  they 
find  the  rubies,  saphires,  and  the  spinelles:  it  standeth  six  days' journey 
from  Ava,  in  the  kingdom  of  Pegu.  There  are  many  great  hills  out  of 
which  they  dig  them."  _(Pinkerton,  vol.  ix.  p.  421.)  Tavernier,  "  that 
rambling  jeweller,  who  had  read  nothing,  but  had  seen  so  much  and  so 
well,"  as  Gibbon  describes  him,  has  the  following  on  the  same  subject : — 
"  There  are  but  two  places  in  the  east  in  which  coloured  stones  are 
found,  that  is,  the  kingdom  of  Pegu  and  the  island  of  Ceylon.  The  first 
is  a  mountain  about  a  dozen  days'  journey  from  Siren  [Sirian],  on  the 
north-east,  and  is  called  Capelan.  This  is  the  mine  which  produces  the 
greatest  quantity  of  rubies  and  spinels,  otherwise  called  the  mother  of 
rubies,  yellow  topazes,  jacinths,  amethysts,  and  other  stones  of  different 
colours."     Id.  vol.  viii.  p.  250. 

2  Pegu  was  also  at  war  with  Ava  when  visited  hy  Hieronimo  di  San 
Stephano  in  1496.  In  1544,  and  again  in  1552,  it  was  subjected  by  the 
neighbouring  King  of  Toungoo,  called  by  Portuguese  writers  "  King  of 

LUD0V1C0    DI    VARTHEMA.  219 

go  and  find  the  king  where  he  was,  in  order  to  give  him 
these  corals.  And  so  we  departed  thence  in  a  ship  made  all 
of  one  piece,1  and  more  than  fifteen  or  sixteen  paces  long. 
The  oars  of  this  vessel  were  made  of  cane.  Understand  well 
in  what  manner  :  where  the  oar  takes  the  water  it  was  cloven, 
and  they  insert  a  flat  piece  of  board  fastened  by  cords,  so 
that  the  said  vessel  went  with  more  power  than  a  brigantine. 
The  mast  of  it  was  a  cane  as  thick  as  a  barrel  where  they 
put  in  the  provisions.  In  three  days  we  arrived  at  a  village 
where  we  found  certain  merchants,  who  had  not  been  able 
to  enter  into  the  said  city  of  Ava  on  account  of  the  war. 
Hearing  this,  we  returned  with  them  to  Pego,  and  five  days 
afterwards  the  king  returned  to  the  said  city,  who  had 
gained  a  very  great  victory  over  his  enemy.  On  the  second 
day  after  the  return  of  the  king,  our  Christian  companions 
took  us  to  speak  with  him. 


Do  not  imagine  that  the  king  of  Pego  enjoys  as  great  a 
reputation  as  the  king  of  Calicut,  although  he  is  so  humane 
and   domestic  that  an  infant  might  speak  to  him,  and  he 

the  Burraas,"  who  extended  his  conquests  over  Ava,  Magoung,  Jan- 
gornai  (Zinime),  the  west  of  Yunan,  and  other  adjoining  states.  This 
monarch  appears  to  have  been  still  on  the  throne  when  Caesar  Fredericke 
was  at  Pegu  in  1586,  and  the  extract  from  Patavino's  Geography,  quoted 
on  pp.  215-6,  gives  an  apparently  authentic  account  of  the  different  de- 
pendencies of  the  kingdom  towards  the  end  of  that  century.  About  that 
time,  however,  the  empire  began  to  decline,  and  its  fall  was  as  rapid  as 
its  rise  :  in  1600,  Pegu  was  besieged  by  the  kings  of  Aracan  and 
Toungoo,  and  its  sovereign  put  to  death  ;  and  thirteen  years  later  the 
King  of  Ava  was  crowned  at  Pegu,  from  which  period  may  be  dated  the 
dominance  of  the  Avan  monarchy  over  the  lower  provinces.  See  Yule's 
Narrative  of  a  Mission  to  the  Court  of  Ava,  pp.  208-213. 

1  The  fj.ovoi,v\a  of  the  author  of  the  Periplus.  See  Vincent's  Com. 
and  Nav.  of  the  Ancients,  vol.  ii.  p.  521. 

220  THE    TRAVELS    OF 

wears  more  rubies  on  him  than  the  value  of  a  very  large 
city,  and  he  wears  them  on  all  his  toes.  And  on  his  legs  he 
wears  certain  great  rings  of  gold,  all  fall  of  the  most  beau- 
tiful rubies  ;  also  his  arms  and  his  fingers  all  full.  His  ears 
hang  down  half  a  palm,  through  the  great  weight  of  the 
many  jewels  he  wears  there,  so  that  seeing  the  person  of  the 
king  by  a  light  at  night,  he  shines  so  much  that  he  appears 
to  be  a  sun.1  The  said  Christians  spoke  with  him,  and  told 
him  of  our  merchandise.  The  king  replied  :  "  That  we 
should  return  to  him  the  clay  after  the  next,  because  on  the 
next  day  he  had  to  sacrifice  to  the  devil  for  the  victory 
which  he  had  gained."  When  the  time  mentioned  was  past, 
the  king,  as  soon  as  he  had  eaten,  sent  for  the  said  Chris- 
tians, and  for  my  companion,  in  order  that  he  might  carry  to 
him  his  merchandise.  When  the  king  saw  such  beautiful 
corals  he  was  quite  astonished  and  greatly  pleased;  for,  in 
truth,  among  the  other  corals  there  were  two  branches,  the 
like  of  which  had  never  before  entered  India.  This  king 
asked  what  people  we  were.  The  Christians  answered : 
"  Sir,  these  are  Persians."  Said  the  king  to  the  interpreter : 
"  Ask  them  if  they  are  willing  to  sell  these  things."  My 
companions  answered  :  "  That  the  articles  were  at  the  service 
of  his  highness."  Then  the  king  began  to  say :  "  That  he  had 
been  at  war  with  the  king  of  Ava  for  two  years,  and  on  that 

1  Both  Gasparo  Balbi  and  Ralph  Fitch  describe  the  richness  of  the 
King  of  Pegu's  dress  and  the  splendour  of  his  court  retinue  in  their 
time.  The  former  saw  him  start  on  a  war  expedition  against  the  King 
of  Ava  "all  over  covered  with  gold  and  jewels  ;"  and  the  latter  says  : 
"  When  the  king  rideth  abroad,  he  rideth  with  a  great  guard,  and  many 
noblemen,  often  on  an  elephant  with  a  fine  castle  upon  him,  very  fairly 
gilded  with  gold,  and  sometimes  in  a  great  frame  like  a  horse  litter, 
which  hath  a  little  house  upon  it  covered  overhead,  but  open  on  the  sides, 
which  is  all  gilded  with  gold,  and  set  with  many  rubies  and  saphires, 
whereof  he  hath  infinite  store  in  his  country,  and  is  carried  on  sixteen 
or  eighteen  men's  shoulders.... He  hath  also  houses  full  of  gold  and  silver, 
and  bringing  in  often,  but  spendeth  very  little.''''  Pikkerton,  vol.  ix. 
pp.  404,  418. 


account  he  had  no  money  ;  but  that  if  we  were  willing  to 
barter  for  so  many  rubies,  he  would  amply  satisfy  us."  We 
caused  him  to  be.  told  by  these  Christians  that  we  desired 
nothing  further  from  him  than  his  friendship, — that  he 
should  take  the  commodities  and  do  whatever  he  pleased.1 
The  Christians  repeated  to  him  what  my  companion  had 
charged  them  to  say,  by  telling  the  king  that  he  might  take 
the  corals  without  money  or  jewels.  He  hearing  this  liberality 
answered  :  "  I  know  that  the  Persians  are  very  liberal,  but 
I  never  saAV  one  so  liberal  as  this  man;"  and  he  swore  by 
God  and  by  the  devil  that  he  would  see  which  would  be  the 
more  liberal,  he  or  a  Persian.  And  then  he  desired  one  of 
his  confidential  servants  to  bring  him  a  certain  little  box 
which  was  two  palms  in  length,  worked  all  round  in  gold, 
and  was  full  of  rubies,  within  and  without.  And  when  he 
had  opened  it,  there  were  six  separate  divisions,  all  full  of 
different  rubies ;  and  he  placed  it  before  us,  telling  us  we 
should  take  what  we  wished.  My  companion  answered  : 
"  O,  sir,  you  show  me  so  much  kindness,  that  by  the  faith 
which  I  bear  to  Mahomet  I  make  you  a  present  of  all  these 
things.  And  know,  sir,  that  I  do  not  travel  about  the  world 
to  collect  property,  but  only  to  see  different  people  and  dif- 
ferent customs."  The  king  answered  :  "  I  cannot  conquer 
you  in  liberality,  but  take  this  which  I  give  you."  And  so 
he  took  a  good  handful  of  rubies  from  each  of  the  divisions 
of  the  said  casket,  and  gave  them  to  him.  These  rubies 
might  be  about  two  hundred,  and  in  giving  them  he  said  : 
"  Take  these  for  the  liberality  you  have  exercised  towards 

1  A  thoroughly  oriental  way  of  driving  a  good  bargain,  though  ex- 
tensively copied  by  tradesmen  on  the  continent  of  Europe.  The  artifice 
is  as  old  as  the  days  of  Abraham,  who  was  a  long  time  in  getting  the 
children  of  Heth  to  name  the  price  of  Machpelah.  At  length  Ephron, 
overcoming  his  modesty,  ventured  to  say  :  "  My  lord,  the  land  is  worth 
four  hundred  shekels  of  silver,"  (which  was  most  probably  ten  times  its 
value,)  but  politely  added  ;  "  What  is  that  betwixt  me  and  thee  1 " 
Genesis,  chap,  xxiii. 


222  THE    TRAVELS    OF 

me."  And  in  like  manner  he  gave  to  the  said  Christians 
two  rubies  each,  which  were  estimated  at  a  thousand  ducats, 
and  those  of  my  companions  were  estimated  at  about  one 
hundred  thousand  ducats.  Wherefore  by  .this  he  may  be 
considered  to  be  the  most  liberal  king  in  the  world,  and 
every  year  he  has  an  income  of  about  one  million  in  gold. 
And  this  because  in  his  country  there  is  found  much  lacca,1 
a  good  deal  of  sandal-wood,  very  much  brazil-wood,  cotton 
and  silk2  in  great  quantities,  and  he  gives  all  his  income  to 
his  soldiers.  The  people  in  this  country  are  very  sensual. 
After  some  days,  the  said  Christians  took  leave  for  them- 
selves and  for  us.  The  king  ordered  a  room  to  be  given  to 
us,  furnished  with  all  that  was  requisite  for  so  long  as  we 
wished  to  remain  there ;  and  so  it  was  done.  We  remained 
in  the  said  room  five  days.  At  this  time  there  arrived  news 
that  the  king  of  Ava  was  coming  with  a  great  army  to  make 
war  upon  him,  on  hearing  which,  this  one  [of  Pego]  went  to 
meet  him  half  way  with  a  great  many  men,  horse  and  foot. 
The  next  day  we  saw  two  women  burnt  alive  voluntarily, 
in  the  manner  as  I  have  described  it  in  Tarnassari. 

1  This  I  take  to  be  the  colouring  matter  produced  by  the  lac  insect,  or 
coccus  ficus,  which  is  abundaut  throughout  the  Burmese  provinces.  Bar- 
bosa  speaks  of  it  as  one  of  the  principal  exports  from  Martaban,  and 
says  that  the  Indians  and  Persians  called  it  Laco  Martabani.  He  does 
not  seem,  however,  to  have  been  aware  how  it  was  produced  : — "  They 
say  this  lacca  is  the  gum  of  trees  ;  others  state  that  it  is  produced  on  the 
branches  of  trees,  just  as  the  grane  grow  in  our  parts,  and  this  account 
seems  more  natural  and  probable.  They  carry  it  in  small  vases,  because 
they  may  not  gather  too  much  of  it."  (Ramusio,  vol.  i.  p.  317.)  Alberti, 
in  his  definition  of  grane,  says  : — "  Sono  coccole  d'un  albero,  simili  quasi 
alle  coccole  dell'  ellera,  colle  quali  si  tingono  i  panni  in  rosso  o  paonazzo 
ed  e  preziosa  tinta.  Oggidi  si  potrebbe  anche  dire  CochenUle"  The  early 
Italian  travellers  appear  to  have  used  the  same  word,  lacca,  to  describe 
both  the  lac  and  the  lacca-wood. 

2  See  note  1  on  p.  198  ante. 





The  next  clay  we  embarked  on  board  a  ship  and  went  to 
a  city  called  Melacha,1  which  is  situated  towards  the  west, 
at  which  we  arrived  in  eight  days.  Near  to  the  said  city  we 
found  an  extremely  great  fiumara,  as  large  as  any  we  had 
ever  seen,  which  they  call  Gaza,2  which  is  evidently  more 
than  twenty-five  miles  wide.  And  opposite  to  the  said  river 
there  is  a  very  large  island,  which  is  called  Sumatra.  The 
inhabitants  of  it  say  that  the  circumference  of  it  is  four 
thousand  five  hundred  miles.  I  will  tell  you  about  the  said 
island  at  the  proper  time.  When  we  had  arrived  at  the  city 
of  Melacha,  we  were  immediately  presented  to  the  Sultan, 
who  is  a  Moor,  as  is  also  all  his  kingdom.3    The  said  city  is 

1  Malacca,  or,  more  correctly,  Malaca,  the  well-known  town  on  the 
western  side  of  the  Malay  peninsula.  Our  traveller  was  the  first  to 
make  Europe  acquainted  with  its  name  and  situation. 

2  By  "  fiumara"  Varthema  undoubtedly  means  the  Straits,  which  are 
about  twenty-five  miles  broad  opposite  Malacca.  "  Gaza,"  I  take  to  be 
a  contraction  of  Boghdz,  the  Arabic  for  a  strait.  The  Arabs  of  the 
present  day  use  the  same  word  to  denote  the  passage  between  the  island 
of  Sumatra  and  the  Malay  peninsula,  calling  it  Boghdz  Malaca,  or 
Boghdz  Singafura.  I  notice  that  Crawfurd,  in  his  Descriptive  Diction- 
ary, sub  voce  Archipelago,  remarks  that  Varthema  underrates  the 
breadth  of  the  Strait  ;  but  he  quotes  our  traveller  from  Bamusio  as  de- 
scribing the  fiumara  to  be  only  "  about  fifteen  miles  broad."  (Id.  sub 
voce  Malacca  Straits.)  Crawfurd  himself  says  in  one  place,  that  the 
town  of  Malacca  is  "  washed  by  the  Straits  which  bear  its  name,  and 
which  are  here  about  five-and-twenty  miles  broad  ;"  and  in  another,  that 
"  the  town  of  Malacca  is  distant  from  the  nearest  shore  of  Sumatra 
about  forty-five  miles,"  (Id.  'sub  voce  Malacca,  pp.  238,  249;)  the  ap- 
pi'oximate  measurements  being  apparently  given,  in  the  one  case,  between 
Malacca  and  the  island  of  Pvupat  directly  opposite,  and  in  the  other 
between  Malacca  and  the  mainland  of  Sumatra. 

3  "  Of  the  time  in  which  the  Muhammedan  religion  was  embraced  by 
the  people  of  Malacca,  there  is  no  precise  statement.  The  Malay  ac- 
count assigns  the  event  to  the  reign  of  a  prince  called  Sultan  Muhani- 

224  THE    TRAVELS    OF 

on  the  mainland  and  pays  tribute  to  the  king  of  Cini,1  who 
caused  this  place  to  be  built  about  eighty  years  ago,  because 
there  is  a  good  port  there,  which  is  the  principal  port  of  the 
main  ocean.  And,  truly  I  believe,  that  more  ships  arrive 
here  than  in  any  other  place  in  the  world,3  and  especially 
there  come  here  all  sorts  of  spices  and  an  immense  quantity 

raed  Shah,  who  ascended  the  throne  in  1276... The  statement  of  De 
Barros  respecting  the  conversion  is  as  follows : — '  The  greatness  of 
Malacca  induced  the  kings  who  followed  Xaquem  Darsa  [Sekandar 
Shah,]  to  throw  off  their  dependency  on  the  kings  of  Siam,  and  this 
chiefly,  since  the  time  when  induced  by  the  Persians  and  Gujrati  Moors, 
who  came  to  Malacca  and  resided  there,  for  the  purpose  of  trade,  from 
Gentiles  to  become  converts  to  the  sect  of  Muhammed.'  "  Crawfurd's 
Descriptive  Dictionary  of  the  Indian  Islands,  etc.,  p.  245. 

-  If  by  Cini  is  meant  Siam,  the  statement  is  corroborated,  generally, 
by  the  learned  researches  of  Mr.  Crawfurd,  who  writes  : — "  The  subjec- 
tion of  Malacca  to  Siam  seems,  indeed,  to  be  admitted  by  all  parties. 
Four  of  the  most  northerly  of  the  States  of  the  Peninsula  are  still  subject 
to  it  ;  while  a  claim  of  supremacy  is  made  for,  at  least,  three  more. 
The  author  of  the  Commentaries  of  Albuquerque,  giving  a  greater  ex- 
tension to  Malacca  than  De  Barros,  thus  describes  it  and  its  subjection 
to  Siam  : — '  The  kingdom  of  Malacca  on  one  side  borders  on  Queda;  and 
on  the  other,  Pam  [Pahang].  It  has  one  hundred  leagues  of  coast,  and 
inland  extends  to  a  chain  of  mountains  where  it  is  parted  from  Siam, 
a  breadth  of  ten  leagues.  All  this  land  was  anciently  subject  to  Siam.'" 
Id.,  p.  244-5. 

"  The  port  is  an  open  road,  but,  notwithstanding,  safe  at  all  seasons, 
not  being  within  the  latitude  of  hurricanes,  nor  within  the  influence  of 
either  monsoons  ;  or,  as  the  Commentaries  of  Albuquerque  express  it : — 
'  it  is  the  beginning  of  one  monsoon,  and  the  end  of  another.'  "  Id., 
p.  249. 

2  "  The  flourishing  condition  of  Malacca,  at  the  time  it  was  attacked 
by  the  Portuguese,  [five  years  after  Varthema's  visit,]  has  no  doubt  been 
much  exaggerated  ;  but  making  every  abatement,  enough  will  remain 
to  show  that  it  was  a  place  of  considerable  commercial  importance, 
judging  it  by  the  ideas  of  the  beginning  of  the  16th  century,  and  by 
the  peculiar  value  then  attached  to  some  of  the  commodities  of  which 
its  trade  consisted.  '  In  matters  of  trade,'  says  De  Barros,  '  the  people 
[the  Malays]  are  artful  and  expert,  for,  in  general,  they  have  to  deal 
with  such  nations  as  the  Javanese,  the  Siamese,  the  Peguans,  the  Ben- 
gallis,  the  (^uelijo  [Chulias  or  Talugus,]  Malabaris,  Gujratis,  Persians, 
and  Arabians,  with  many  other  people,  whose  residence  here  has  made 


of  other  merchandise.  This  country  is  not  very  fertile,1  yet 
there  is  produced  there  grain,  a  little  animal  food,  wood, 
birds  like  those  of  Calicut,  excepting  the  parrots,  which  are 
better  here  than  in  Calicut.  A  great  quantity  of  sandal- 
wood and  of  tin  is  found  here.2  There  are  also  a  great  many 
elephants,  horses,  sheep,  cows  and  buffalos,  leopards  and 
peacocks,  in  great  abundance.  A  few  fruits  like  those  in 
Zeilan.  It  is  not  necessary  to  trade  here  in  anything  except- 
ing in  spices   and  silken  stuffs.3     These  people  are   olive- 

them  very  sagacious.  Moreover,  the  city  is  also  populous,  owing  to  the 
ships  which  resort  to  it  from  the  country  of  the  Chijs  [Chinese],  the 
Lequios  [Japanese],  the  Lucoes  [people  of  Luzon  in  the  Philippines], 
and  other  nations  of  the  Orient.  All  these  people  bring  so  much  wealth, 
both  of  the  East  and  the  West,  that  Malacca  seems  a  centre  at  which 
are  assembled  all  the  natural  productions  of  the  earth,  and  all  the  arti- 
ficial ones  of  man.  On  this  account,  although  situated  in  a  barren  land, 
it  is,  through  an  interchange  of  commodities,  more  amply  supplied  with 
everything  than  the  countries  themselves  from  which  they  come.'"  Id. 
p.  245. 

1  Varthema's  remark  respecting  the  comparative  infertility  of  the 
country,  is  confirmed  by  De  Barros  in  the  preceding  note,  and  fully  cor- 
roborated by  Crawfurd,  who  says  : — i:  It  is  in  vain  to  plead  for  the  un- 
productiveness of  Malacca  the  maladministration  of  former  national 
adminstrations,  for  Malacca  has  been,  with  little  interruption,  nearly 
sixty  years  under  British  rule,  while  Arracan,  in  less  than  half  the 
time,  under  the  same  government,  competing  with  its  immediate  neigh- 
bour Bengal,  has  become  one  of  the  principal  granaries  of  India." 
Id,,  p.  239 

s  I  infer  from  Crawfurd  that  sandal-wood,  if  it  exists  there  at  all,  is 
produced  in  very  small  cpuantities  in  the  territory  of  Malacca,  the  chief 
places  of  its  growth  being  several  of  the  islands  of  the  Malay  Archi- 
pelago, but  more  especially  Timur  and  Sumba,  which  latter  takes  its 
European  name  of  Sandal-wood  Island  from  it. 

In  1847,  the  cpaantity  of  tin  obtained  from  the  mines  in  the  Malacca 
territory  was  about  five  thousand  cwts.,  and  it  is  yearly  increasing.  Id. 
p.  240. 

3  Meaning,  I  presume,  that  these  were  the  most  marketable  commodi- 
ties. With  regard  to  silk,  Crawfurd  says  :  "  It  may  probably  have  been 
first  made  known  to  the  inhabitants  of  the  Indian  Islands  by  the  Hin- 
dus, if  we  are  to  judge  from  its  Sanscrit  name  ;  but  iu  all  times  known 
to  us,  they  have  been  supplied  with  this  article  raw  and  wrought  by  the 


2£6  THE    TRAVELS    OF 

coloured,  with  long  hair.  Their  dress  is  after  the  fashion 
of  Cairo.  They  have  the  visage  broad,  the  eye  round,  the 
nose  compressed.  It  is  not  possible  to  go  about  the  place 
here  when  it  is  dark,  because  people  are  killed  like  dogs,1 
and  all  the  merchants  who  arrive  here  go  to  sleep  in  their 
ships.  The  inhabitants  of  this  city  are  of  the  nation  of 
Giavai.  The  king  keeps  a  governor  to  administer  justice 
for  foreigners,  but  those  of  the  country  take  the  law  into 
their  own  hands,  and  they  are  the  worst  race  that  was  ever 

Chinese,  the  original  inventors  of  silk  -/'...nevertheless,  he  adds  : — "  that 
from  the  raw  silk  of  China,  the  Malays  and  Javanese  always  wove,  and 
still  continue  to  do  so,  some  strong  and  often  rich  domestic  fabrics  suited 
to  their  own  peculiar  tastes.     Id.,  p.  394. 

1  Crawfurd  describes  the  Malays  as  a  brown-complexioned,  lank- 
haired  people,  of  a  squat  form,  with  high  cheek-bones,  large  mouth, 
and  flattened  nose.  With  regard  to  costume,  I  had  frequent  oppor- 
tunities, during  my  long  residence  at  Aden,  of  seeing  many  Malay  mer- 
chants on  their  way  to  Meccah,  who  were  generally  dressed  like  the 
same  class  in  Syria  and  Egypt.  As  to  character,  the  Malays  in  general 
bear  a  very  questionable  one,  and  are  notorious  for  their  vindictiveness. 
Barbosa  describes  them  as  "  very  skilful  and  exquisite  workmen  ;  but 
very  malevolent  and  treacherous,  rarely  speaking  the  truth,  and  ready 
to  commit  any  outrage  and  to  die. ..There  are  some  of  them  also,  if  at- 
tacked with  any  serious  illness,  make  a  vow  to  God  that  if  restored  to 
health,  they  will  voluntarily  select  a  more  honourable  death  in  His 
service.  On  recovery,  they  leave  their  houses  with  a  dagger  in  hand, 
and  rush  through  the  streets,  where  they  kill  as  many  persons  as  they 
can,  men,  women,  and  children,  insomuch  that  they  seem  like  mad  dogs. 
These  are  called  Amnios,  and  when  seen  in  this  frenzy,  all  begin  to 
cry  out,  Amnios  !  Amnios  !  in  order  that  the  people  may  be  on  their 
guard,  who  with  knives  and  lances  immediately  put  them  to  death." 
(Ramusio,  vol.  i.  p.  318.)  Amnios,  I  take  to  be  a  corruption  of  the 
native  amuJc,  and  the  origin  of  our  "  running  a-muck,"  which,  according 
to  Crawfurd,  is  a  phrase  introduced  into  our  language  from  the  Malay, 
the  latter  word  signifying  a  furious  and  reckless  onset. — "  Running 
a-muck  with  private  parties  is  often  the  result  of  a  restless  determina- 
tion to  exact  revenge  for  some  injury  or  insult  ;  but  it  also  results,  not  less 
frequently,  from  a  monomania  taking  this  particular  form,  and  originat- 
ing in  disorders  of  the  digestive  organs.  The  word  and  the  practice  are 
not  confined  to  the  Malays,  but  extend  to  all  the  people  and  languages 
of  the  Archipelago  that  have  obtained  a  certain  amount  of  civilization." 
Desc.  Diet.,  p.  12. 


created  on  earth.  When  the  king  wishes  to  interfere  with 
them,  they  say  that  they  will  disinhabit  the  land,  because 
they  are  men  of  the   sea.1     The  air   here   is    very  temper- 

1  Considering  that  Vartheuia  was  the  first  European  to  describe 
Malacca,  and  that  his  stay  there  did  not  extend  beyond  a  few  days,  it  is 
surprising  to  find  how  strikingly  correct  his  brief  remarks  are,  not  only 
as  regards  the  natural  objects  which  were  open  to  his  inspection,  but 
others  also  which  were  less  obvious,  connected  with  the  past  history  of 
the  people  and  their  actual  civil  condition  at  the  period  of  his  visit. 
The  statement  that  Malacca  was  inhabited  by  a  nation  of  Javanese  is 
corroborated  by  the  learned  researches  of  Crawfurd,  who  says  :  "  On  one 
point,  all  parties  seem  to  agree,  that  not  only  the  founders  of  Malacca, 
but  even  of  Singapore,  were  Javanese  and  not  Malays  ;  for  even  the 
Malayan  account  is  substantially  to  this  effect,  since  it  brings  the  emi- 
grants who  established  themselves  at  Singapore  from  Palembang,  which 
was  a  Javanese  settlement."     Id.  p.  243. 

Equally  remarkable  is  our  traveller's  notice  of  two  distinct  classes 
among  the  Malays,  one  given  to  trade  and  agriculture  and  subject  to  an 
organized  government,  the  other  a  wild  race  acknowledging  no  superior 
authority,  and  who  either  felt  themselves  strong  enough  to  resist  any 
attempt  to  impose  it  by  expelling  the  more  civilized  community  from 
the  country,  or  who  did  not  care  to  reside  on  land  because  they  were 
"  men  of  the  sea  ;"  for  Varthema's  words — "  Et  quando  il  re  si  vol 
mettere  fra  loro,  essi  dicono  che  deshabitaranno  la  terra  perche  sono 
homini  de  mare," — will  bear  both  interpretations.  How  surprisingly 
this  account  is  corroborated  by  Crawfurd,  except  that  the  latter  makes 
three  sections  of  the  Malays,  will  be  seen  by  the  following  extract  : — 
"  The  Malay  nation  may  be  divided  naturally  into  three  classes  :  the 
civilized  Malays,  or  those  who  possess  a  written  language,  and  have 
made  a  decent  progress  in  the  useful  art3  ;  the  gipsy-like  fishermen, 
called  the  Sea  People;  and  the  rude  half  savages,  who,  for  the  most 
part,  live  precariously  on  the  produce  of  the  forests.  The  civilized 
Malays  consist  of  the  inhabitants  of  the  eastern  side  of  Sumatra,  of 
much  of  the  interior  of  that  island,  and  of  those  of  the  sea-boards  of 
Borneo  and  the  Malay  Peninsula.  The  sea-gipsies  are  to  be  found 
sojourning  from  Sumatra  to  the  Moluccas. ..The  only  habitations  of  this 
people  are  their  boats,  and  they  live  exclusively  by  the  produce  of  the 
sea,  or  by  the  robberies  they  commit  on  it.  The  most  usual  name  by 
which  they  are  known  is  orang-laut,  literally,  'men  of  the  sea'. ..The 
rude  wandering  class,  speaking  the  Malay  language,  is  found  in  the 
interior  of  the  Malay  Peninsula,  in  Sumatra,  and  in  the  islands  lying 
between  them,  but  in  no  other  part  of  the  Archipelago. "...These  three 
classes  of  Malays  existed  near  three  centuries  and  a  half  ago,  when  the 


228  THE    TRAVELS    OF 

ute.1  The  Christians  who  were  in  our  company  gave  us  to 
understand  that  we  ought  not  to  remain  long  here  because 
they  are  an  evil  race.  Wherefore  we  took  a  junk  and  went 
towards  Sumatra  to  a  city  called  Pider,  which  is  distant  from 
the  mainland  eighty  leagues,  or  thereabouts. 


They  say  that  in  this  district  there  is  the  best  port  of  the 
whole  island,  which  I  have  already  told  you  is  in  circura- 

Portuguese  first  arrived  in  the  waters  of  the  Archipelago,  just  as  they 
do  at  the  present  day.  That  people  describes  them  as  having  existed 
also  for  two  centuries  and  a  half  before  that  event,  as  without  douht 
they  did  in  times  far  earlier.  Thus  De  Barros  describes  the  first  class  of 
Malays  as  '  men  living  by  trade,  and  the  most  cultivated  of  these  parts ;' 
the  second  as  '  a  vile  people,'  whose  '  dwelling  was  more  on  the  sea  than 
the  land,'  and  who  '  lived  by  fishing  and  robbery  ;'  and  the  third  as 
'  half  savages'  (quasi  meios  salvages,)  while  the  Malay  language  was 
common  to  all  of  them."     Id.,  p.  250. 

1  "  The  climate  of  Malacca,  as  to  temperature,  is  such  as  might  be 
expected  in  a  country  not  more  than  one  hundred  miles  from  the 
equator,  lying  along  the  sea  shore, — hot  and  moist.  The  thermometer 
in  the  shade  ranges  from  72°  to  84°  of  Fahrenheit,  seldom  being  so  low 
as  the  first  of  these,  and  not  often  higher  than  the  last.  The  range  of 
the  barometer  is  only  from  20.8  to  30.3  inches.  Notwithstanding  con- 
stant heat,  much  moisture,  and  many  swamps,  the  town  at  least  is 
remarkable  for  its  salubrity."     Id.,  p.  239. 

'2  Mr.  Crawfurd  makes  Varthema  "  the  first  writer  who  gives  the  name 
[of  this  island]  as  we  now  write  it,"  which  remark  is  only  correct  if  re- 
stricted to  the  modern  orthography  of  the  word  ;  for  Sumatra  is  undoubt- 
edly the  island  where  Nicold  de'  Conti  was  detained  a  year,  and  which  he 
calls  Sciamuthera.  But  although  Conti  was  most  probably  the  first  to 
make  known  the  name  to  our  continent,  I  deem  it  tolerably  certain  that 
it  was  the  island  visited  by  Ibn  Batuta  about  a.d.  1330,  which  he  desig- 
nates Jdivah,  but  the  capital  of  which,  situated  four  miles  from  the 
coast,  he  calls  Shumatrah  or  Smnatrah.  Our  Java,  to  which  he  subse- 
quently proceeded,  he  distinguishes  by  the  name  of  Mul-Jdioah.  This 
inference  is  corroborated  by  the  fact  that  the  former  place  was  then  under 
a  Muhammedan  king  called  Ez-Zahir  Jamal  ed-Din,  whereas,  according 


ference  4,500  miles.  In  my  opinion,  which  agrees  also  with 
what  many  say,  I  think  that  it  is  Taprobana,  in  which  there 

to  Crawfurd,  though  several  attempts  had  been  made  between  1358  and 
1460  to  convert  the  Javanese,  it  was  not  till  1478  that  the  Muham- 
medans  succeeded  in  capturing  the  capital,  and  establishing  their  own 
power  and  faith  ;"  which  further  agrees  with  Ibn  Batuta's  account  of 
MulJdwah,  who  calls  it  "  the  first  part  of  the  territory  of  the  infidels." 
(See  Lee's  Translation,  pp.  199-205  ;  and  Crawfurd's  Desc.  Diet., 
p.  185.)  As  Ibn  Batiita  was  proceeding  from  Bengal  to  China,  and 
appears  to  have  touched  at  the  Andaman  or  Nicobar  Islands  on  his 
voyage  from  the  former  coast,  I  think  it  highly  probable  that  the  present 
Achin  was  the  place  which  he  visited  in  the  island  of  Sumatra ;  for  that 
town  lies  about  two  miles  from  the  shore,  and  the  Achinese  are  stated  to 
have  been  converted  to  Islam  as  early  as  the  year  1204  And  if  Achin 
was  also  the  city  where  Conti  was  detained,  which  is  not  unlikely,  his 
designation  of  it  strikingly  accords  with  Ibn  Batiita,  for  he  applies  that 
of  Sciamuthera  to  the  city  as  well  as  to  the  island,  describing  the  former 
as  "a  very  noble  emporium."  Coupling  these  ideas  with  the  following 
quotation  from  Crawfurd,  I  think  it  by  no  means  improbable  that 
Shumatrah,  or  some  modification  of  that  word,  was  the  prevailing  name 
of  Achin  (and,  perhaps,  of  the  islaud  also,)  in  Ibn  Batuta's  time,  and 
that  its  present  name  is  of  more  recent  date  : — "  The  native  name  is  cor- 
rectly Acheh  ;  but  this  word,  which  means  a  '  wood-leech,'  does  not, 
although  naturalized,  belong  to  any  of  the  Malayan  languages,  but  to  the 
Tellnga  or  Telugn  of  the  Coromandel  coast.''''  {Id.,  p.  2.)  I  note,  however, 
that  the  same  author  conjectures  that  the  word  Sutnatra  is  of  Sanscrit  or 
Hindu  origin,  probably  from  Samudra,  the  sea  or  ocean  {Id.,  p.  414.) 

Respecting  Marco  Polo's  visit,  Mr.  Crawfurd  has  the  following  observa- 
tions : — "  It  is  remarkable  that  the  name  of  Sumatra  had  not  reached 
Marco  Polo,  although  he  was  six  months  wind-bound  at  the  island,  and 
in  communication  with  the  natives.  That  of  Java,  the  only  large  terri- 
tory of  the  Archipelago,  familiarly  called  an  island,  by  the  natives,  had 
done  so  ;  and  he  called  Sumatra,  knowing  it  to  be  an  island  but  ignorant 
of  its  relative  extent,  Java  Minor."  {Id.,  p.  414.)  Whereon  I  venture  to 
suggest,  that  although  Marco  Polo  designates  Sumatra,  the  compass  of 
which  he  approximately  estimated  at  2,000  miles,  by  the  name  of  Java 
the  Less,  he  nevertheless  describes  it  as  comprising  eight  kingdoms,  six 
of  which  he  visited,  and  one  of  these  latter,  namely,  that  where  he  was 
detained  for  several  months,  he  calls  Samara.  That  word,  as  it  stands, 
approaches  very  nearly  the  orthography  of  the  present  name,  and  by  the 
simple  addition  of  the  letter  t,  which  may  have  been  omitted  by  an  oversight 
in  the  original  manuscript  or  in  the  first  copies,  we  have  Samatra  in  full. 
It  is  further  deserving  of  notice  that  the  same  traveller  apparently  makes 

230  THE    TRAVELS    OF 

are  three  crowned  kings  who  are  Pagans,  and  their  faith,  their 
manner  of  living,  dress,  and  customs,  are  the  same  as  in  Tar- 

Samara  the  chief  kingdom  in  the  island,  for  he  says  of  its  people  :  — 
"  Ilanno  re  grande  e  potente,  e  chiainansi  per  il  Gran  Can."  Ramusio, 
vol.  ii,  p.  52. 

Varthema  greatly  exaggerates  the  extent  of  the  island,  which  is 
"  about  1,000  miles  in  length,  its  extreme  ends  being  its  narrowest  parts, 
and  its  centre  its  broadest.  Its  area  is  reckoned  at  128,560  geographical 
square  miles."  (Desc.  Diet.,  p.  414.)  Prior  to  the  publication  of  his  book, 
our  traveller  appears  to  have  had  some  discussions  with  the  learned  men 
of  Europe,  consequent  on  his  own  discovery,  respecting  the  ancient 
geography  of  the  island,  which  led  him,  as  it  did  many  others,  to  identify 
it  with  the  Taprobana  of  Ptolemy.  The  locality  of  that  famous  island 
was  a  vexed  question  at  the  end  of  the  sixteenth  century,  for  Patavino 
in  describing  Sumatra  writes  : — "  Hanc  Insulam  antiquorum  Taprobanam 
fuisse  omnes  pene  auctores  sentiunt,  licet  aliqui  niagnre  eruditionis  viri 
ipsam  Auream  fuisse  Chersonesum  putent,  ac  ob  id  antiquis  ceu  penin- 
sulam  creditam  fuisse."  And,  again,  under  the  head  of  Ceylon  : — 
"ZEILAN  verd  insula  prasstantissima  est,  quee...antiquam  fuisse  Ptole- 
mrci  Taprobanam  Andreas  Corsalus  et  Joannes  Barrius  cum  plerisque  alijs 
censent;  Mercator  ver5,  cui  magis  in  hac  re  fidem  prtestamus,  putat  esse 
Ptolenuei  Nanigerim."     Geographia,  pp.  26. 

With  respect  to  the  government  of  Sumatra,  it  has  been  already  men- 
tioned that  Marco  Polo  divided  the  island  into  eight  kingdoms,  one  of 
which  was  Felich,  where  the  inhabitants  of  the  coast  had  embraced 
Muhammedanism,  "  by  frequent  trade  with  the  Saracens  ;  but  those  who 
dwelt  in  the  mountains  were  still  like  beasts."  Varthema  diminished 
the  number  to  "  iii  Re  di  corona,"  which  probably  comprised  only  those 
of  the  principal  states  on  the  eastern  side  ;  Odoardo  Barbosa  says  the  is- 
land has  "  molti  regni  di  quali  il  principal  e  Pedir  della  banda  di  tra- 
montana  ;"  while  De  Barros  enumerates  no  less  than  twenty-nine  on  the 
sea  board  alone,  of  which  Pedir,  then  an  independent  sovereignty,  is  one. 
Patavino  sums  up  the  information  acquired  on  this  subject  up  to  the 
end  of  the  sixteenth  century  in  these  words  : — "  Scribunt  quidam  univer- 
sam  hanc  insulam  in  quatuor  regna  esse  divisam  :  alii  in  decern,  alii 
autem  in  29.  ex  quibus  nota  sunt  tantummodo  decern:  nempe  Regnuui 
Pedir,  quod  caoteris  prsestat  ;  Pazem  seu  Pacem ;  Achem  seu  Acem ; 
Campar  ;  Menancabo,  quod  est  fundamentum  divitiarum,  universae  in- 
sula?, cum  in  eo  sint  minerse  auri  opulentissinice  ;  et  regnum  Zunde  :  et 
haec  quidem  sex  regna  sunt  circa  littus  ipsius  insula?,  ac  a  Mauris  occu- 
pata  olim  fuere."  (Id.,  p.  265.)  The  last  remark  agrees  with  De  Barros 
;is  (pioted  by  Crawfurd  : — "  The  inhabitants  of  the  coast  follow  the  sect 
of  Muhammed ;"  nevertheless,  Varthema's  account,  which  makes  some 


nassari,  and  the  wives  also  are  burnt  alive.  The  colour  of 
these  inhabitants  is  almost  white, and  they  have  the  face  broad, 
and  the  eyes  round  and  green.1  Their  hair  is  long,  the  nose 
broad  and  flat,  and  they  are  of  small  stature.  Here  justice 
is  strictly  administered,  as  in  Calicut.2  Their  money  is  gold, 
and  silver,  and  tin,  all  stamped.  Their  golden  money  has 
on  one  side  a  devil,  on  the  other  there  is  something  resem- 
bling a  chariot  drawn  by  elephants  :  the  same  on  the  silver 

of  the  sovereigns  Hindu  by  religion,  and  more  especially  the  reigning 
king  of  Pedir,  is  too  circumstantial  to  be  set  aside  by  any  general  de- 
scriptions of  an  island  of  such  vast  extent,  and  comparatively  so  little 
known  to  the  best  Portuguese  historians  of  that  age.  Moreover,  Var- 
thema  had  become  well  versed  in  the  externals,  at  least,  of  Muhammedan- 
ism,  and  was  not  likely  to  confound  the  observances  of  Paganism  wit